Saturday, June 30, 2007

Some More Covers For Saturday

Feel awash on a mixture of emotions. On the majorly positive side, I am getting married in two weeks time to the wonderful soon to be Mrs. 17 Seconds, there are only four days left until the end of term (it's basically videos next week, which takes the stress out of having to do too much planning), and I am alive. On the negative side, the weather in Scotland has been wet even by the usual standards (so we are looking at a wet wedding at this rate), Ash are apparently about to release their final album, and Fopp, a scottish independent chain have closed their doors. Not good news. At all. From a slightly selfish point of view, I loved shopping there. From a more concerning point of view, there are many sources that indicate that staff have not been paid for the last month's work (talk about alienation of labour, as Marx would have said), and as a former employee of the company, there is a sense of 'There but For the Grace Of God go I.' As the owner is a millionaire he should damn well make sure his staff are paid a.s.a.p.

Who to blame? Anyone who suggests bloggers (not that anyone has. Yet.) is frankly talking out of an orifice that's not their mouth. I wish supermarkets would stop selling CDs at discounted prices, and that people bought their music from independent stores rather than big chains. I know I have put links to online stores when encouraging people to support music, which is as much of a disclaimer I guess, but the little men and women should not be having to suffer. The staff in small music stores are generally much better informed than staff in the big stores (I should know, I worked for one briefly and it was quite a dispiriting experience generally). I don't doubt that there are people who work in supermarkets who are very well-informed about music, but the reality is that they are not going to have the time to talk to and advise customers. Most importantly, supermarkets are only going to stock titles by established bands, rather than stocking vinyl and CDS by new and up and coming artists. This is not to anyone's advantage.

I know I'm ranting, but this is from the heart, as it concerns things I feel passionately about, namely the people on minimum wage jobs or precious little better, and music.

Is there anything we can do? I refuse to accept that we are powerless. Support independent music stores rather than big monoliths, make sure that workers' rights are recognised, and encourage small companies to operate as co-operatives rather than aiming to be corporate.

Related to this, a purchase a couple of months ago from Fopp, which I have picked some covers from, by my all-time favourite band, The Cure.

The Cure-'Hello I Love You.' mp3

The Cure-'Hello I Love You (Slight Return mix).' mp3

The Cure-'Purple Haze (Unreleased Virgin Radio version).' mp3

The Cure-'Purple Haze.' mp3

The Cure-'Young Americans.' mp3

The Cure-'World In My Eyes.' mp3

(For the benefit of anyone who genuinely doesn't know who the originals are by, aaargh! The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and Depeche Mode).

These tracks are taken from The Cure's Join The Dots boxset. After everything I have said, if you like what you hear, go and buy it from an independent store. The mp3s will be up for one week only.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Underrated albums #7: Blur " The Great Escape" (1995)

Blur's fourth album was released in 1995. The follow-up to their UK commercial breakthrough, it has become the most disputed album of the seven in their career. Much of that is due to an over-discussed battle with another band, which has overshadowed it. So, that's all I'll say about that part of the equation, and at most, just review it in on it's own, or at least, as part of the Blur back catalogue.

The Great Escape is the third and final part of what is effectively a trilogy, the other two preceeding albums being, of course, Modern Life Is Rubbish and Parklife. Whilst Modern Life... had been conceived by a band who were seen as has-beens, the huge success of Parklife had made the band massive stars, now just as likely to be seen in teen magazines as in the music press. Given that there was just fifteen months between the third and fourth albums, maybe it seemed rushed. Granted there are a couple of tracks that might have been better as b-sides 'Topman' and 'Dan Abnormal', but then you can't have it all.

There were four UK hit singles off the album, 'Country House' being the band's first number one, and 'The Universal, 'Stereotypes' and 'Charmless man.' Even to those who hadn't heard the album, the knees-up 'Country House' was wildly different from the snarling 'Stereotypes' which might even have worked on the fifth album, while 'Charmless Man' showed that Pulp were not the only ones doing singalong social commentary. However 'The Universal' was utterly sublime, the sound of a band reaching for the stars.

There were also amazing album tracks, of which two 'He Thought Of Cars' and 'Yuko and Hiro' are included below. Blur might also have been the first band to work the word 'Quango' into a pop song as well.

And of course, the next album was a complete departure. Blur deserve to be seen as the British Band of the Nineties, and this album is just as much as part of that claim as any of the others.

Forget the historical over-analysis and enjoy for what they are. Presenting four cuts from Blur's most under-rated album:

Blur-'Charmless Man.' mp3

Blur-'The Universal.' mp3

Blur-'He Thought Of Cars.' mp3

Blur-'Yuko and Hiro.' mp3

As always, these will be up for one week only.

Buy The Great Escape here

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

New Pornographers-or how I'm a Johnny-come-lately!

17 Seconds is kicking itself. On Sunday Morning, I went over to Song, By Toad to download his podcast, which is pretty damn good. I was blown away by the track 'New Romantic' by the New Pornographers and set about trying to find as much as I could legally.

For anyone who is even more of a Johnny-Come-Lately than me, they are an 'indie-supergroup' based in Chicago, and amongst their number are Neko Case and A.C.Newman, who I had heard of, but not really heard.

Their new album is called Challengers and will be out in August, from where 'My Rights Versus yours' comes from.

New Pornographers-'My Rights Versus Yours.' mp3

New Pornographers-'The Laws have Changed.' mp3

New Pornographers-'Mass Romantic.' mp3

New Pornographers-'Twin Cinema.' mp3

New Pornographers-'Use It.' mp3

And some of the solo stuff:

Neko Case-'Star Witness.' mp3

Neko Case-'If You Knew.' mp3

A.C. Newman-'Miracle Drug.' mp3

A.C. Newman-'Drink To me.' mp3

Official New Pornographers website here

These will be up for one week only. If yopu like what you hear, go investigate, either at Amazon or a local independent record shop.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Underrated albums #6: Boo Radleys " C'Mon Kids" (1996)

If Giant Steps was the 'hip' one, which swept the readers and critics polls in 1993, and Wake Up! the commercial one, then maybe the appearance of C'mon Kids might seem like the beginning of the Boo Radleys decline.

Yeah, right.

C'Mon Kids is actually a damn fine album, all these years later, with a return to the experimentalism that had characterised the Boo Radleys work before Wake Up! but included some damn fine songs just the same. Wake Up Boo! might have been their best remembered song, it's just that it became like 'Sit Down' and 'Wonderwall.' A crossover hot that threatened to become an albatross.

There were three UK Top. 40 hits off the album -which was considerably more than Giant Steps had done, and they were crackers. My favourite track is 'New Brighton Promenade' which I remember sticking on quite a few mix tapes for other people back in the day.

Try these singles and the aforementioned 'New Brighton Promenade' then if you like it Buy C'Mon Kids here.

Boo Radleys-'C'Mon Kids.' mp3

Boo Radleys-'What's In The Box?' mp3

Boo Radleys-'Ride The Tiger.' mp3

Boo Radleys-'New Brighton Promenade.' mp3

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Big Thumbs Up

Well, the weather was abysmal, but when you are inside, it doesn't matter!

Yesterday was the Wedding of Liz at The Roaring Machine and Simon at Spoilt Victorian Child, so I hope they had a very happy wedding day. All the best guys.

Yesterday was also my Stag do, for my wedding to the soon to be Mrs. 17 Seconds which is a mere three weeks away. Put together by my brother, I had a fantastic day, involving food, ten pin bowling, lazerquest and stand up comedy (watching not performing). A great time was had by all, including yours truly who was only embarassed in the comedy club when I had to get up on the stage and kiss a girl from the audience (Ben, you're dead mate!) And Toad from Song, By Toad was also there, whipping everyone at lazerquest!

So thanks to everyone who came out, this is for you, and indeed anyone who enjoys great music.

Camper Van Beethoven-'Take The Skinheads Bowling.' mp3

And, all over the blogs though it is, the tracks I have heard off the Justice album are just excellent so here are two for you:

Justice-'D.A.N.C.E.' mp3

Justice-'Waters Of Nazareth.' mp3

The mp3s will be up for a week only, so get em while you can.

If you like the music, buy Camper Van Beethoven here and Justice here.

Hope you are all having a good weekend, and that the weather is less wet than it is in Scotland.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Underrated albums #5: Kate Bush " The Dreaming" (1982)

That difficult fourth album. Just ask Radiohead (Kid A), the Smiths
(Strangeways Here We Come) or The Cure (Pornography). Actually, ask Kate Bush.

The Dreaming, Kate Bush's fourth album was released in 1982. It's fair to say that Britain had never produced a female artist like her. A truly independent artist, who grasped the power of the medium of the music video, who had studied mime and could write amazing songs. Never afraid to tackle difficult themes, including incest ('The Kick Inside) and homosexuality ('Wow' and 'Kashka from Baghdad'), and drew inspiration from unusual sources ('Infant Kiss' was inspired by The Innocents, the filmed version of The Turn Of The Screw). She also began to produce her own records. The sound of her music may have owed almost nothing to punk, but the creative spirit than continues to run through her music has much to do with the creativity, experimentalism and individuality of what has become known as post-punk.

So by 1982, the world should have been hers for the taking. What the record company were probably not expecting, as post-punk faded and the prevailing aesthetic became shiny rather than scratchy, was The Dreaming. The title track referenced aboriginal culture and featured Rolf Harris on didgeridoo. And that kind of experimentalism (or madness, as many fans and critics saw it at the time) wasn't confined to that track. The braying donkey sounds that close final track 'Get Out Of My House' seem designed to unsettle.

Yet though the album only produced one UK Top 40 hit, 'Sat In your Lap' with a seemingly demented piano riff that might have unnerved the more MOR end of her fanbase, the songs are gorgeous too. My personal favourite is 'There goes A Tenner' which bombed as a single in the UK (though reportedly a Top 10 hit in Ireland). It deserved to be a hit.

It's a cliche, but maybe the problem with The Dreaming was that it was too ahead of it's time. It's dated extremely well, and it's quirkiness is one of it's many charms. Yes, it's bonkers, but then when Bjork's bonkers it's considered cool.

The follow-up album is The Hounds Of Love, which she laboured over, concerned about what would happen if she was too bloody-minded ('Running Up That Hill' should really have been called 'A Deal With God' but her record company talked her out of it, fearing that invoking the almighty's name would mean that she wouldn;t get airplay. Kate wasn't Cliff Richard, after all!) It's the album that consolidated her as a long-term player and meant that every kate Bush album afterwards would be an event when it arrived after an everlong gestation period. But The Dreaming, comparitive commercial flop though it may have been, explains why she is so revered by so many. There's many who have been influenced by her, not just female singer-songwriters either, but male guitar bands.

And if we have to wait another decade for the next album it will be worth it.

Kate Bush-'There Goes A Tenner.' mp3

Kate Bush-'The Dreaming.' mp3

Kate Bush-'Night Of The Swallow.' mp3

Buy The Dreaming here. These mp3s will be up for one week only. If you like what you hear, go and buy it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Underrated albums #4: The Cure " The Top" (1984)

By the end of 1983, The Cure seemed to have it made. After all the years of being a cult act, if a highly revered one, they had shown that they were more than a goth/raincoat band, and broken through into the charts. The two core members, Robert Smith and Lol Tolhurst, had put the sacking of bassist Simon Gallup behind them, and were having hits. Pop hits. 'The Walk' had reached no.12 and 'The Lovecats' had reached no.7. So, a pop album was to be the next thing, surely?

Surely not. If history has told us anything, it's that geniuses are anything but predictable (Who would have thought in 1975 that two years later David Bowie would have fled Los Angeles and plastic soul for Berlin and electronic music? Still if we knew the winner of the Derby in advance, we'd all be rich).

The Cure' next album The Top is arguably the nearest Robert Smith has ever come to putting out a solo album under the moniker that has served him and his merry men for thirty years. The album credits Smith as 'Instruments and voices', Lol as 'Other Instruments' and Andy Anderson on drums with Porl Thompson on saxophone. The single released from the album 'The Caterpillar' might have seemed like a logical progression from 'The Lovecats' but it's almost out of place on its' parent album.

Psychedelia is the name of the game here. Whatever drugs Mr. Smith and his merry men were ingesting -hallucinogenics, he has indicated subsequently-were giving him some bizarre visions. The album isn't as gothic as Faith or as downright terrifying as Pornography, but there must have been some innocent souls who were freaked out by what this band had done in the space of a few months.

The lyrics seem bizarre-still plenty of animals but lots of blood and paranoia. Musically this is one of the Cure's most adventurous albums. Not in terms of 'How many styles can we cram onto one album?' (see 1996's Wild Mood Swings for that), but just how way out it sounds.

This album can seem inaccessible at first hearing, and yet, like so mnay of the best albums, repeated listenings reward. There are moments of utter gorgeousness, like 'Dressing Up', though the later live version on Paris is even better. Title track and closer 'The Top' is one of the most atmospheric things The Cure ever committed to vinyl. 'Wailing Wall' can take you to that very place, truly hypnotic with the riff invading your brain.

Within a year, the Cure had changed their lineup again, and released an entire album of pop songs, the rather gorgeous The Head On the Door. That's another story, and one when The Cure were truly a band. But for sheer experimentalism, maybe The Cure, for better or worse, never sounded like they'd messed with their audiences expectations -or heads!- in this way again. Yet... : )

The Cure-'Birdmad Girl.' mp3

The Cure-'Wailing Wall.' mp3

The Cure-'Bananafishbones.' mp3

The tracks will be up for a week only. If you like what you hear, buy The Top here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I have been discussing music with a fellow teacher a lot at work, and disocvered much in common in terms of music, particularly stuff from the pre-Britpop era. having spent today listening to Slowdive, how could I not encourage others to listen to?

The first Slowdive album Just For A Day was released in 1991, at the height of shoegazing, or as the Americans called it -'Dreampop.' This latter label seems quite appropriate when applied to this album. These two tracks are taken from there:

Slowdive-'Spanish Air.'

Slowdive-'Catch The Breeze.' mp3

1993 saw the release of Souvlaki, which suggested a bit more of a dub feel. Whilst some sections of the music press were more preoccupied with grunge (on both sides of the Atlantic), there were those who fell for the charms of its dub influences, which showed the band had built upon the success of their debut.

Slowdive-'Alison.' mp3

Slowdive-'When The Sun Hits.' mp3

By 1995, the music scene had changed drastically. Kurt Cobain had died, and Britpop held sway in the UK, not only in the 'indie/alternative' scene but in the national pop charts too. Their Wikipedia entry denies that labelmates Oasis had insisted they leave the label, but this album was released a mere week before they were dropped. a shame, because this might even be my favourite of their three albums, representing truly adventurous music that's just as out there as their (former) labelmates My Bloody Valentine had been when they released Loveless in 1991. This is ambient and dub becoming ever more important in the sound, though to be fair, the Boo Radleys -who had reinvented themselves in line with the times, had hints of it on their earlier albums.

Slowdive-'Rutti.' mp3

Slowdive-'J's Heaven.' mp3

After the release of Pygmalion, the band more evolved than split into Mojave 3, who had far more of an Americana-influenced sound and who still prosper today.

Slowdive's official website is here.

As always, the mp3s will be up for one week only. If you like what you hear, please go and buy the music, be it from Amazon, or your local indpendent retailer.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

In the morning


After a few days of what seems like rains of Biblical proportions in Scotland over the last few days, the soon to be Mrs.17 Seconds and I woke up to find the sun shining.

How else to mark it, but...these:

Junior Boys-'In The Morning.' mp3

My Bloody Valentine-'Paint a Rainbow.' mp3

Saturday, June 16, 2007

More about Matthew Wratten

It's always nice to get feedback on this blog, and it's also always nice when you get a lot of feedback, particularly about something you might not expect to.

So, cheers for all those who wrote in about the Trembling Blue Stars post. And here, a humble offering. I only own two tracks from Matthew Wratten's previous band, the Field Mice, but I thought I would share these with you, as well as a Saint Etienne cover.

The Field Mice -'Landmark.' mp3

The Field Mice-'Let's Kiss And Make Up.' mp3

Saint Etienne-'Let's Kiss And make Up.' mp3

Buy Field Mice records here

Buy Trembling Blue Stars records here

Buy Saint Etienne records here

Have a good weekend, Ed

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Swimmer One

Hi there,
first of all, sorry to anyone who tried to download the echo and the Bunnymen mp3s unsuccessfully. No idea what was happening there, but anyway...

Here are the first two lead tracks of the two eps (so far) by Edinburgh's Swimmer One. they should have an album out sometime this year, and of you like this, they also have more music over at their MySpace and Website

Swimmer One-'We Just Make Music For Ourselves.' mp3

Swimmer One-'Come On, Let's Go!' mp3

As always, if you like what you hear, please go and buy the singles, either from their website or your local shop (record shop that is, not greengrocer).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Underrated albums #3: Echo and the Bunnymen " What are You Going To Do With Your Life?"

In 1997, Echo and the Bunnymen reformed, having split up almost ten years previously.

OK, maybe I should qualify that. Singer Ian McCulloch had left for a solo career in 1988, and drummer Pete de Freitas had died in a motorbike accident in 1989. The following year, an album credited to Echo and The Bunnymen (featuring vocalist Noel Burke, drummer Damon Reece and Jake Brockman on keys, as well as Les Pattinson and Will Sergeant) called Reverberation had been released. Both Colin at And before The First Kiss and Mike at Manic Pop Thrills have posted tracks from this oddity in the Bunnymen cannon in the last few months.

In 1994, Will Sergeant and Ian McCulloch reunited, as Electrafixion, before reuniing with Les to release Evergreen in 1997. Their first album in ten years as Echo and the Bunnymen, it was a huge success critically and commercially, and they were welcomed back with open arms.

Two years later, they released the follow up What Are You Going To Do With Your Life? This got some good reviews, a hit single (Rust reached no.23 in the UK), but somehow didn't connect with people the way that its predecessor had. It has not been written out of history, in the same way that Reverberation has, but seems to have slipped below the radar.

This is a shame, for it's a beautiful album, that as the iTunes review I checked a few minutes ago says, the sort of record post-punk bands should be making twenty years in. Not trading on past glories (you can imagine the record company wanting an album of 'The Cutter' and 'The Killing Moon' re-writes) nor trying to be trendy (an accusation that has been levelled at Evergreen, whihc I thinnk is a far inferior album). It is a reflective album, but no musical equivalent of an expanding waistlinie in middle-age here. It's a comparatively short album in the CD age (clocking in at 38 minutes) that reflects and accepts its' place.

It has been described as a McCulloch solo abum, somewhat unfairly. Pattinson plays on 'Fools Like Us' only (he was, perhaps understandably, more concerned with a legal battle for access to his kids). Perhaps the photos dwell on McCulloch a lot more than Segeant, but this is very much a Bunnymen record in sound. It also features the Fun Lovin' Criminals -hang on, come back- whose contributions actually add a deft touch to 'Get In The Car' and 'When It All Blows Over.'

Maybe this struck a chord, being released with just a few months to go til my first degree finished, and not entirely sure what was next. But this is an album I love. Sure it's not as good as Ocean Rain, but this deserves to be seen as more than just a footnote in the Bunnymen's nearly thirty year career.

Echo and the Bunnymen-'What are You Going To Do With Your Life?' mp3

Echo and the Bunnymen-'Rust.' mp3

I cannot see a listing for this on Amazon, but try your local record shop, and it is still available on iTunes.

Enjoy, these will be up for one week only.


for some reason, despite several attemots to relaod these, they are not coming up.

Will try and repost as soon as I can work out what the problem is.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Amplifico...more information please!!

I had intended to post a review of the gig I went to last night, which was Aberfeldy in Edinburgh. However, due to the fact that the soundchecking had taken ages along the line somewhere, the band were not on til late, which meant that I couldn't see the whole gig, so not really fair to review it here. I have now seen them eight times over the last three years, whihc is more than I've seen any other band.

No, this post is about Amplifico the fabulous support band, who absolutely blew me away. My mate Dave, who I went with, reckons that Donna the lead singer has a touch of Kate Bush about her. KT Tunstall is apparently in awe of her voice-and she's not the only one. Their set was an absolute joy from start to finish.

I'm kinda embarassed though, because I cannot write about Amplifico in as informed a way as I would like. I'm hoping they - or someone can get in touch with more information. They look very cool, and their bass player was supposedly playing his first gig with them last night, Wearing tails! and pulling it off. Their myspace says they are a three piece, though Scott seemed like very much part of the band.

I loved their sound and cannot wait to see them live again. I tried to buy some of their music today, but no-one seems to know if they've got anything out.

Anyway, here's two mp3s from their MySpace. Check them out, and go and see them live, and make friends with them at their mySpace spot.

And please, someone let me know: What do they have out? Is Scott in the band? When is their debut album actually out, and on what label?

Amplifico-'Red Song.' mp3

Amplifico-'Just To Pause This.' mp3

Who's afraid of Mark E.Smith?

*in Salford accent nuh nuh nuh, nuh nuh nuh*

er, sorry, lost myslef for a minute there. *blush*

Anyway...I was talking with a very big Fall fan the other day, who said he had heard that Mark E. Smith and Mouse On Mars had collaborated, but hadn't heard the album Tromatic Reflexxions. a couple of years ago I bought his attention to their collaboration (as Mouse on Mars featuring Mark E. Smith) on the 'Wipe That Sound' 12", and now, for the benefot of Gilmour and anyone else who may not have heard it, presenting four tracks from the Von Sudenfed album:

Von Sudenfed-'Serious Brainskin.' mp3

Von Sudenfed-'Dearest Friends.' mp3

Von Sudenfed-'Fledermaus Can't Get It.' mp3

Von Sudenfed-'That Sound Wiped.' mp3

These tracks will be up for one week only. If you like what you hear, go and buy it here or at your local independent record shop.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Some Covers For Friday Part II

No reason for the picture above this post, other than that I stuck 'Friday' in Google Image and this was the picture I liked best off the first page.

Anyway, it's the end of another long week, but I'm still alive, and still trying to organise wedding stuff with the soon-to-be Mrs. 17 Seconds.

Here are some covers for Friday. the first one I heard live a few months ago, but was brought to my attention by Liz over at the The Roaring Machine yesterday.

Camera Obscura-'Super Trouper.' mp3

Astrid Swan -'When You Were Young.' mp3

Le Tigre-'I'm So Excited.' mp3

Arcade Fire-'Maps.' mp3

CSS-'One Way Or Another.' mp3

Snow Patrol-'Crazy In Love.' mp3

Death Cab For Cutie-'World Shut Your Mouth.' mp3

Editors-'French Disko.' mp3

As always, if you like what you hear, support the artists. These links will be removed after a week.

Have a good one,


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Abba On The Jukebox?

Many years ago, whilst driving alone at night I was listening to John Peel. And there was one of those moments, where you hear something that touches you.

And on the night in question, in 1996, April I think, it was this song by Trembling Blue Stars.

Trembling Blue Stars-'Abba On The Jukebox.' mp3

This is simply one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. I'm not an expert on twee-pop by any means (but try And Before The First Kiss or The Roaring Machine for people who undoubtedly are), but I know what I like and I love this.

A couple of years later I managed to pick up the album Her Handwriting
and there were a lots of brilliant songs just waiting for me there, including these two:

Trembling Blue Stars-'A Single Kiss.' mp3

Trembling Blue Stars-'Do People Ever?' mp3

Buy Her Handwriting here

And of course, how could I forget the masters of the Sad Song themselves? Sod post-modernism, camp and all the justifications, critiques and other rubbish that's lobbed in their direction, Abba really understood POP.

Abba-'The Visitors.' mp3

Buy The Visitors here

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Underrated albums #2: Scritti Politti " Anomie & Bonhomie"

What was I listening to in 1999? Umm, it seems so long ago, and somehow I can focus far better on the stuff from the earlier years of the decade. Though ever so occasionally, I give Bellatirix and daawn of the Replicants a spin, and it reminds me of the final undergraduate year, trying to get my own band off the ground and then staying on at uni to do my Masters.

One great album from that time is Scritti Politti's Anomie and Bonhomie. At the time, this was their first album for eleven years, since Provision. The last time we had seen Green Gartside and co., it had been doing a fairly average (if we're being honest) cover of the Beatles 'She's a Woman' with Shabba Ranks in tow.

This album, however, combined a lot of what Green had clearly been listening to - Reggae, Nirvana , and lots of Hip Hop, and made an absolute gem of an album. It's a confident album, without some of the sheen which almost engulfed Provision at times. It featured contributions from Mos Def, as shown on the single, 'Tinseltown To the Boogiedown.' Opener 'Umm' also managed to start off almost fluffy, before taking in rock -when had we ever heard Scritti rock before -and hip hop, all within the space of four minutes and fourteen seconds. Granted 'First Goodbye' shows off Green's amazing voice but is a bit like Westlife-type ballad (who I wasn't listening to in 1999, at least not out of choice). The voice is still supreme and you got the feeling that this was a record that he wanted to make.

It was great to see Green put out another labum last year, White Bread Black Beer, back on his original home of Rough Trade, touring for the first time in 26 years, and getting press coverage. Whilst 1982's debut Songs To Remember has had a lot of publicity again in recent years, as the post-punk revival continues, this is my favourite Scritti album in many ways. Let these three tracks whet your appetite.

Scritti Politti-'Umm.' mp3

Scritti Politti-'Tinseltown to the Boogiedown.' mp3

Scritti Politti-'The World You Understand (Is Over and Over and Over).' mp3

Buy Anomie and Bonhomie here for less than a fiver.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Underrated albums #1: New Model Army "Thunder and Consolation"

A new series at 17 Seconds

History is full of those bands who are presented, by a sometimes revisionist music industry and journalism, as being little more than footnotes. Many bands may not often grace front covers or have their records played on mainstream radio, yet can fill massive gig venues, and, most crucially, have a loyal fan base that will stay with them for years (as opposed to, say, the teen market, which can turn on their heroes as quickly as each other in the playground).

One band who this definitely applies to is New Model Army. Sneered at, seemingly largely for failing to come from London and the fact that some of their followers may have worn clogs, New Model Army formed in 1980, around the nucleus of Justin Sullivan, who still leads the band today. their sound genuinely incorporated many diffrenet styles (as opposed to those who cliamed to whilst ripping off the same sources). Their debut album, Vengeance, was released in 1984. They signed to EMI for their second album No Rest For The Wicked, for which other 'alternative' bands attacked them, including Chumbawumba*. They made it onto 'Top Of The Pops' to play the album's title track, (in)famously sporting t-shirts bearing the legend 'Only Stupid Bastards Take Heroin' with the word'bastards' taped over. The following year's The Ghost Of Cain, was their best yet, with a continuation of their fantatsic songs of urban life. Opener 'The Hunt' was later covered by Sepultura.

But it was 1989's Thunder and Consolation that showed the group had hit new heights. As well as their post-punk sound, the album also featured the violin of Ed Elain Johnson, adding a folky approach. The pinnacle of the album is 'Green and Grey' which deals with the claustrophobia of the small northern towns in England, where unprovoked violence can erupt at any moment, those who escape it for the rbight lights of the city, and those they leave behind:

(Heaton/Sullivan) 1987

The time I think most clearly, the time I drift away
Is on the bus-ride that meanders up these valleys of green and grey
I get to think about what might have been and what may yet come true
And I get to pass a rainy mile thinking of you
And all the while, all the while, I still hear that call
To the land of gold and poison that beckons to us all
Nothing changes here very much, I guess you'd say it never will
The pubs are all full on Friday nights and things get started still
We spent hours last week with Billy boy, bleeding, yeah queuing in Casualty
Staring at those posters we used to laugh at:
Never Never Land, palm trees by the sea
Well there was no need for those guys to hurt him so bad
When all they had to do was knock him down
But no one asks to many questions like that since you left this town

Ch: And tomorrow brings another train
Another young brave steals away
But you're the one I remember
From these valleys of green and the grey

You used to talk about winners and losers all the time - as if that was all there was
As if we were not of the same blood family, as if we live by different laws
Do you owe so much less to these rain swept hills than you owe to your good self?
Is it true that the world has always got to be something
That seems to happen somewhere else?
For God's sake don't you realise that I still hear that call
Do you think you're so brave just to go running to that which beckons to us all?

Ch: No, not for one second did you look behind you
As you were walking away
Never once did you wish any of us well
Those who had chosen to stay
And if that's what it takes to make it
In the place that you live today
Then I guess you'll never read these letters that I send
From the valleys of the green and the grey

Published by Attack Attack Music/Warner Chappell Music Ltd

This album is, frankly, an underrated classic. New Model Army continue to record and tour, and have a very committed folllowing over the world, even if the music press in the UK either sneered or ignored them altogether. They have relased nine studio albums as well as live albums and compilations. Their webpage can fill in more info.

This album can be bought here. For your listening pleasure, try these for starters:

New Model Army -'Green and Grey.' mp3

New Model Army -'225.' mp3

New Model Army -'Vagabonds.' mp3

* During a conversation with Joolz Denby in 2001 (-Justin Sullivan's partner, who also has been responsible for the groups art work, as well as amassing a fantastic career of her own. See for more information about her own very varied and fascinating career), she told me that Chumbawumba's alice Nutter had, in fact, apologised to Justin in person for her earlier attacks. Chumbawumba later themselves signed to EMI.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Some Covers For Saturday

Hello again.

Had a few computer problems that are now fixed, so here are some covers for Saturday.

This year, as well as being the thirtieth anniversary of the first Sex Pistols and Clash albums (alright, smarty pants; so the Sex Pistols only released one album proper but you know what I meant), is also the anniversary of David Bowie's most productive year, when he relased his own Low and Heroes, as well as his important contributions to Iggy Pop's The Idiot and Lust For Life. However, that will have to be a post for a future, er, post. Here are three covers that should be heard, taken from a freebie CD with Uncut four years ago.
The Langley Schools Music Project take on 'Space Oddity' is chilling, in a nice sort of way, the Black Box Recorder version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Suicide' is definitely made their own, and the associates 'Boys Keep Swinging' was famously released - as their debut single - mere months after Bowie's original came out in 1979.

Associates-'Boys Keep Swinging (David Bowie cover).' mp3

Langley Schools Music Project-'Space Oddity (David Bowie cover).' mp3

Black Box Recorder -'Rock 'n' Roll Suicide (David Bowie cover).' mp3

This was recorded live at the Reading Festival when the White Stripes had to pull out at short notice. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club do this fantastically.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -'The Hardest Button To Button (White Stripes cover).' mp3

This cover was originally recorded, I believe for a compilation intended to promote peace in Northern ireland called Peace Together (and if anyone has mp3s of Therapy? doing 'Invisible Sun' and Pop Will Eat Itself doing 'Games Without Frontiers' please get in touch).

My Bloody Valentine -'We Have All The Time In The World (Louis Armstrong cover).' mp3

Finally, it was a hit, easily obtainable, but what a joy to hear!

Futureheads-'The Hounds Of Love (Kate Bush cover).' mp3

Okay, you know the drill. these will be up here for a week only. If you like what you hear, support the artists involved.