Thursday, January 31, 2008

Peel Slowly and see

Ah the legendary Mr. Peel. Famous quotes (many more of which can be found here
Peel's compering debut on TOTP: "In case you're wondering who this funny old bloke is, I'm the one who comes on Radio 1 late at night and plays records made by sulky Belgian art students in basements dying of TB."

And of course, his comment about Aretha Franklin's duet with George Michael 'I Knew You Were Waiting':"You know, Aretha Franklin can make any old rubbish sound good, and I think she just has."

First up, from one of the greatest travelling albums of all time, Big Science, Laurie Anderson's deeply spooky 'O superman'
Laurie Anderson -'O Superman.' mp3 (1981 Festive Fifty no.34)

The Wedding Present had 47 entries in the various Festive Fifties between 1986 and 2004, including two entries in the millennium Festive Fifty as well as doing nine sessions. David Gedge's other band, Cinerama had 13 entries in the Festive Fifty, and did ten Peel sessions. (When I have more time on my hands I will work out who did best out of David Gedge, Morrissey and Mark E. Smith)

Cinerama -'King's Cross.' mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.18)

Throughout 2004, it was clear that Bloc Party were very definitely gathering pace, and they had three entries in the final ever Festive Fifty, including this:

Bloc Party -'Little Thoughts.' mp3 (2004 Festive Fifty no.44)

The stranglers were accused of being bandwagon jumpers during punk, Johnny Rotten labelling them short-haired hippies, but they did have some fantastic songs. Best of all was this:
The Stranglers -No More Heroes (1978 Festive Fifty no.33, 1979 Festive Fifty no.45, 1980 Festive Fifty no.58)

My all-time favourite single by The Jam:

The Jam-'Strange Town.' mp3 (1979 Festive Fifty no.27)

And a handful you might be a little surprised to see made the Festive Fifty. After all, weren't they a little, y'know, poppy? What the hell, I think they're great tracks and so did many of his listeners, evidently:

It's easy to heap scorn on Gary Numan/Tubeway army, due to his sheer ...what?, but he is slowly becoming critically rehabilitated over the advancing years, and this is a stellar track.

Tubeway Army - 'Are Friends Electric?' mp3 (1979 Festive Fifty no.39)

According to the website, Depeche Mode never did any sessions for Peel, nor had any entries in the Festive Fifty (nor did Erasure,, for that matter), but Vince Clark did score with two of his other, less-long lasting projects. The first ended up being a one-off, featuring none other than Fergal Sharkey on vocals (the Undertones had split up a few months previously)

Assembly -'Never Never.' mp3 (1983 Festive Fifty no.23)

...then the two albums only project that was Vince and none other than Alison Moyet.

Yazoo -'Don't Go.' mp3 (1982 Festive Fifty no.60)

Is this a guilty pleasure? Oh, whatever. I'm not the only one.

Blancmange -'Living On The Ceiling.' mp3 (1982 Festive Fifty no.34)

This was the only entry Tears For Fears had, in those hallowed days of 'new pop.' It is a fantastic tune, and seems to have actually dated quite well, IMHO.

Tears For Fears -'Mad World.' mp3 (1982 Festive Fifty no.5)

This is my 35th post this month, or something BTW. Hope you are enjoying them. Please leave feedback, I don't bite!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Another great, unsigned band for you.

Hailing from deepest, darkest Surrey, Stagecoach produce gorgeous indie-pop with an American west coast inflexion -think Calexico, the Shins and Wilco, but they sing in their own accents. They are unsigned at the moment, but gigging a fair bit in London and producing some gorgeous pop songs.

See what you think of these:

Stagecoach - 'Neon Lights.' mp3

Stagecoach -'Giddy up.' mp3 (according to their MySpace, in February 2007 'Giddy Up' appeared on the soundtrack to the BBC2 drama 'Party Animals').

If you like these, there are more great tracks over at their mySpace. Pop over, make friends and say hello.

A Peel-related rummage

As you will have noted, I have been doing a lot of Peel-related posts of late. I have also noted other bloggers doing posts on singles that they have found during a rummage in cupboards or wherever, including Song, By Toad and The Vinyl Villain. why not combine the two?

The Sugarcubes are legendary as the biggest band to have come out of Iceland, at least until Sigur Ros, and the fact that their lead singer, Bjork has had a substantial amount of solo success since the band split in 1992. Their debut single 'Birthday' was no.1 in the 1987 Festive Fifty, as well as a minor chart hit, (and no.23 in the Millennium Festive Fifty!) It paved the way for their 1988 debutalbumLife's Too Good. But (as well as a later remix in 1992 at the time of the band's split), there was another version of the song, re-recorded in 1988, which featured Jim and William Reid of the Jesus and Mary Chain.

I first saw the Sugarcubes on The Chart Show, a fairly revolutionary TV programme given that it was all videos and absolutely no presenters. The Sugarcubes were featured on the once every three weeks indie chart on many occasions, and it was here that I saw the video for Birthday. Weird and wonderful. Interestingly, this version of the single was 'Single Of The Fortnight' in Smash Hits, too. It took me thirteen years to find the CD single, when I did it cost me £8 ($16 US) and as far as I'm concerned, it was worth every penny.

So for your listening pleasure, first up, the Peel-favoured original version of Birthday:

Sugarcubes -'Birthday.' mp3

and the entirety of the 1988 re-recording:

Sugarcubes -'Birthday (Christmas Eve mix).' mp3

Sugarcubes -'Birthday (Christmas Day mix).' mp3

Sugarcubes -'Birthday (Christmas present mix).' mp3

Sugarcubes -'Petrol (live).' mp3

And finally, as treat, the original version of Birthday in Icelandic.

Sugaracubes -'Ammæli (Birthday -Icelandic).' mp3

Oh, and if anyone has got an mp3 of The Sugarcubes doing a song called 'Cat' could they let me know? Ta.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Keeping it Peel

Looking thorugh the John Peel-related posts on the BBC's website, particularly relating to the Festive Fifties, it's kinda interesting to see what gets thrown up, in terms of the bands you rediscover, never heard, or are surprised to see in there. It's good to see stuff that comes round again...or should. Today's post is actually quite heavy on 1993, a time when I listened to John Peel's show pretty regularly, taping it (no podcasts then!) and trying to stay awake until 2AM on Friday and Saturday nights, something that I didn't manage very often. It's also interesting to note just how much good stuff there was, and looking back, thanks to John Peel, the NME and Melody Maker, the local library and Radio 1 finally moving forward, just how much aware I was of quite a few of these at the time.

What was it about his show? Oh heck...his enthusiasm for music, the sheer diversity of the music, the fact that he knew so much about music, you felt he was teaching you just as much as your own teachers were. He was cool to me, not in a silly way, but just managing to have his finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist. Or something. When John Peel died in 2004, my mother and another friend were very quick to ring up and see how I was. It's fair to say no other DJ could make people act this way.

Anyway, on with the music...

Laura Cantrell was a favourite of John Peel and no fewer than three songs from her album Not The Tremblin' Kind made the Festive Fifty in 2000. These definitely tend towards 'Country' rather than 'Americana.' This is my favourite of those three:

Laura Cantrell -Two Seconds.' mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.27)

Of course, there were some very angry Americans on there too, perhaps typified by the Dead Kennedys twenty years previous to Laura Cantrell;

Dead Kennedys -'Holiday In Cambodia.' mp3 (1980 Festive Fifty no.6, 1981 Festive Fifty no.9, 1982 all-time chart no.14, Millennium all-time chart no.14 )

And it wasn't all singing either:

Pigbag -'Pap's got a Brand New Pigbag.' mp3 (1981 Festive Fifty no.39,)

I wish I could claim that the first time I ever heard Billy Bragg was on John Peel's show, as a very clued-up, cool ten year old. That would be a lie, however. I actually first heard this on Now That's What I Call Music Volume 8 (also featuring the Pet Shop Boys, Run DMC, Cameo...and Nick Berry). Oh well.

Billy Bragg -'Greetings To The New Brunette.' mp3 (1986 Festive Fifty no.41)

The first time I ever heard PJ Harvey was thanks to a free cassette (this was 1992, free CDs started appearing a year or so later in the UK),on which was her Peel session version of Water, on a compilation free with a magazine called VOX (a nineties magazine largely written by NME writers), called Radio Daze. A year later Peel played the corrosive and scary 50FT Queenie (including when he hosted a lunchtime show for a couple of weeks), and then one night in early 1995 'Down By The Water.'

PJ Harvey -'Sheela-Na-Gig.' mp3 (1992 Festive Fifty no. 2)

PJ wasn't quite a riot grrl (sic) per se but pre-Britpop, there was a lot of angry, politicised music, and no lack of things to get worked up about, and there were a lot of bands leading the way. I remember scrawling Cornershop on my school-bag, much to the complete disdain of my school mates. Bet they all brought 'Brimful Of Asha' especially for that line about bosoms. Hmm. Anyway, five great tracks from the 1993 Festive Fifty:

Chumbawumba and Credit To the Nation-'Enough Is Enough.' mp3 (1993 Festive Fifty no.1)

Madder Rose - 'Swim.' mp3 (1993 Festive Fifty no.2)

Voodoo Queens -'Supermodel Superficial.' mp3 (1993 Festive Fifty no.6)

Senser - 'Eject.' mp3 (1993 Festive Fifty no.21)

Credit To the Nation -'Call It What You Want.' mp3 (Festive Fifty no.24)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Another Festive Fifty themed post thingy

Sorry for the lack of posts over the last few days, things have been rather busy. about some more Peel-related posts, eh?

The Delgados -'American Trilogy.' mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.10)

Aphex Twin - Windowlicker.' mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.42) (How the hell did this only get to no.42 and the Cuban Boys were no.1?! Go figure...)

Clinic -'The Second Line.' mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.28)

Hole -'Beautiful Son.' mp3 (1993 Festive Fifty no.47)

The Fall -'Dr. Buck's Letter.' mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.3)

Melys -'Chinese Whispers.' mp3 (2001 Festive Fifty no.1)

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead -'Mistakes And Regrets.' mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.4)

Age Of Chance -'Kiss.' mp3 (1986 Festive Fifty no.2)

Calexico -'Ballad Of Cable Hogue.' mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.22)

Frankie Goes To Hollywood -'Two Tribes.' mp3 (1984 Festive Fifty no.25)

It's funny, I felt in 2000 that I felt increasingly rmeoved from the music scene, as I failed to really love 2-step garage or nu-metal. Maybe there was much better stuff than I appreciated...



Friday, January 25, 2008

A Peel-approved Burns' Night! (Part Two)

Mogwai -'My Father, My King.' mp3 (2001 Festive Fifty no.10)

Teenage Fanclub -'Like A Virgin.' mp3 (1991 festive Fifty no.36)

Fire Engines -'Candy Skin.' mp3 (1981 Festive Fifty no.58)

Sons and Daughters -'Johnny Cash.' mp3 (2004 Festive Fifty no.7)

The Delgados -Pull the wires From The Wall.' mp3 (1998 Festive Fifty no.1)

Rezillos -'I Can't Stand My Baby.' mp3 (1977 Festive Fifty no. 4 initially!)

Arab Strap -'The First Big Weekend.' mp3 (1996 Festive Fifty no.3)

Enjoy! and mine's a veggie haggis...

A Peel-approved Burns' Night! (Part One)

This post is jointly dedicated in respect of Robert Burns and John Peel, and features three scots bands, beloved by the late Mr. Peel covering Burns related songs.

Today is Burns' Night in Scotland, in honour of Robert Burns (1759-1796), scotland's National Bard. No other literary figure - not even Shakespeare- can really be eclebrated as he is. The man was a legend, and his inspiration runs through to this day, inspiring many. Maya Angelou (I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings) discovered Burns when she was eight and said 'He was the first white man I read who seemed to understand that a human being was a human being and that we are more alike than unalike.' At the Burns and a' that Festival in 2003, Patti Smith performed a rendition of 'Afton Water.' Kofi Annan gave the inaugural Robert Burns Memorial lecture in New York, using Burns' 'A Man's a man for a'that' as the touchstone for his remarks. Written in 1795 and covered by Ballboy (see below), this 'anthem of radicalism' was described by his later biographer Auguste Angellier as a 'Marseilliase of Equality' and was chosen to open the new scottish parliament.

Ballboy -'A Man's a Man For a'That.' mp3 (Available as a free mp3 from their website)

My all-time favourite scottish band The Delgados covered 'Such a Pacel Of Rogues In A Nation' for a Peel session a few years ago. The Parcel Of Rogues In A Nation refers to the English and England, and is Burns' scathing attack on the Union Of Parliaments in 1707. Some see it as evidence of his nationalist tendendies, but others have suggested that he was just being provocative.

The Delgados -'A Parcel Of Rogues.' mp3 (available on their Peel sessions album)

Burns was a love machine par excellence, fathering nine children, not all of them with his wife Jean Armour. But she inspired 'I Love My Jean' set to music by Camera Obscura a few years ago, who also wrote music for 'My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose.'

Camera Obscura -'I Love My Jean.' mp3

Camera Obscura -'A Red, red rose.' mp3 (from the I Love My Jean single)

Other than that, amongst many others are Eddi Reader, who has released a n entire album of Burns' songs and also, Belle and Sebastian have covered one of his best-known songs 'Auld lang Syne' in swedish (if anyone knows how to get hold of this please let me know).

There will be more scots, John Peel related music later. Watch this space.

For more on Robbie Burns go here

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Album Review: Tom Hickox

Tom Hickox -Fear In A Handful Of Dust (self-released)

I must learn not to jump to conclusions (copy out 500 times). Tom Hickox is a Scottish-born, London -living singer songwriter who takes the notion of singer songwriter further than just one introspective man and his guitar. There’s real strings but what sets him apart from so many others is the electronica. Added to the inspiration which Scott Walker, Nick Cave and Morrissey have clearly provided, and this is something special. Imagine Four Tet, Squarepusher, the Brodsky Quartet and Scott Walker collaborating on the same album…and you perhaps start to get close to this. This album will benefit from repeated listens, and reveal its charms and hidden delights the more you hear it. It was released last year, and I can only regret I didn’t hear it before. Make sure you do so now, especially ‘Grief Hijackers,’ one of the few times I can remember feeling genuinely sorry when a song ended.


Tom Hickox -'Grief Hijackers.' mp3

Tom's website is here and his mySpace is here. Pop along and say hello. Follow the links on these sites if you wish to hear more tracks and buy the album.


1954 hail from San Diego, California. Which is perhaps funny, given that they sound far more British than a lot of British bands. I particularly hear Blur and Bloc Party, and also a hint of the Klaxons. The vocals are a tad weird, but this is not necessarily a bad thing (Celine Dion might be a technically a better singer than Shane MacGowan, but who would you rather listen to? Exactly). They sound like more youngsters having a fantastic time, creating a riot of noise, guaranteed to annoy boring grown-ups. This is, naturally, a very good thing.

They are currently unsigned, but - as is the case in this day and age- They have five songs up on their MySpace, of which I present two for you here:

1954 -'The Soap Opera.' mp3

1954 -'Fairytales.' mp3

If you like these, go along to their MySpace, where you can download more tracks and make friends with them. As ever, please let me know what you think, as well as downloading the music.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Upcoming new releases...

Five tracks from three upcoming albums I'm looking forward to...

Hot Chip's Made In The Dark is already getting bloggers salivating across the blogosphere. 'Ready For The Floor' is getting airplay, and the album sounds like it should be as big or even bigger than The Warning. This is due out on February 4.

Hot Chip -'Ready For The Floor.' mp3 FILE REMOVED BY REQUEST

Hot Chip -'Bendable Poseable.' mp3 FILE REMOVED BY REQUEST

Adele's gone straight to no.2 in the charts with 'Chasing Pavements and her debut 19 is out next week. This year's Kate Nash or Lily Allen? Why is that a bad thing? For my money, I prefer 'Hometown Glory.'

Adele -'Chasing Pavements.' mp3 FILE REMOVED BY POLITE REQUEST

Adele -'Hometown Glory.' mp3 FILE REMOVED BY POLITE REQUEST

Finally, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are set to release their fourteenth studio album Dig, Lazarus Dig on March 3. A new Nick Cave album is always worth getting excited about, and as the greatest living Australian, worth hearing and seeing.

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds -'Dig Lazarus Dig!' mp3

As always, if you like what you hear, support the artists involved by buying the music, going to gigs etc..


I quite like the fact that since I put in an email contact at the top of this page bands and artists are coming to me, as well as me having to go to them. However, I'm still wading through a lot there and on my MySpace page, so please bear with me...

One such band whose attention I've been drawn to are a band called Athens. Neither Greek nor from Georgia, they are a five piece from Chicago. They do a fantastic style of American indie-rock, which for me evokes early REM, Wilco, Arcade Fire...and also, on this first track here, I hear quite a bit of the Go-Betweens, the second finest Australian act ever. They are currently unsigned, but hopefully that should change...

I thought I'd focus on some new music today; so, please let me know what you think.

Athens -'Dreams, eternity etc..' mp3

Athens -'Assshaker.' mp3

As ever, if you like what you hear, please go and make friends with them over at their MySpace.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Yet Another Festive Fifty-themed post

Here are ten songs today from the legendary Festive Fifty compiled by John Peel. As yesterday's entry focused on the eighties, it seemed only fair to do the nineties today. Some of the records were obscure, but other artists went on to do massively well. Much like the eighties, in fact.

The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy -'Television: The Drug Of The Nation.' mp3 (1992 Festive Fifty No.38)

Dawn Of the Replicants -'Science Fiction Freak.' mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty No.29)

The Orb -'The Box.' mp3 (1996 Festive Fifty No.7)

The Fall -'Bill Is Dead.' mp3 (1990 Festive Fifty No.1)

Nirvana -'Where Did You Sleep Last Night?' mp3 (1994 Festive Fifty no.27)

Hefner -'The Hymn For the Cigarettes.' mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.2)

Orbital -'Blue Room.' mp3 (1992 Festive Fifty No. 20)

AC Acoustics -'I Messiah Am Jailer.' mp3 (1997 Festive Fifty no.19)*

Slowdive -'Catch the Breeze.' mp3 (1991 Festive Fifty No.20)

Paris Angels -'All On You(Perfume).' mp3 (1990 Festive Fifty no.6)

* OK, I'm aware that there were only thirty-one records in the chart that year due to restrictions on John Peel's time. But you get the point, yes?

Don't Sacrifice Your First Born!

The reason for the title of this post has almost nothing to do with ms. Dax; rather, that yesterday I received feedback from a reader called AJ saying that he/she couldn't find the track and had looked everywhere for it. So I said would post it, and AJ was so delighted he/she said that they would sacrifice their firstborn...and we couldn't have that, could we?!

Anyway, first up, from a 1988 12" single, the song that scared and intrigued an eleven year old boy, Cathouse:

Danielle Dax -'Cathouse.' mp3

... from another 1980s 12" single, 'White Knuckle Ride.'

Danielle Dax -'White Knuckle Ride.' mp3

and finally, off a goth compilation called Nocturnal, this is BIG HOLLOW MAN

Danielle Dax -'Big Hollow Man.' mp3

Whilst I am not a big authority on Danielle Dax, you might like to try these sites:

Danielle Dax Homepage

Danielle Dax official site (under construction when I looked)

This wikipedia entry alas suggests she is either on hiatus or retirement from the music industry

Her official mySpace page is maintained by her old friend and bandmate, Karl Blake.

Hope you enjoy this, and if people can direct us to where Danielle dax's music can be bought more easily, please do!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Another Festive Fifty themed post

What can I say? It was just such fun (if bloody time consuming) doing yesterday's Peel-related Post here that I thought I'd do something similar again...In the process, I have realised that a great number of these come from 1982, confirming my belief that 1977-1982 was the greatest era ever, for music. Followed by 2001-2008, obviously).

First up, Pete Wylie under various guises had several entries in the Festive Fifty, here are two of my favourites. It's sometimes hard trying to work out what was Wah!, Mighty Wah! or Wah! Heat (or Shambeko Say Wah! for that matter, but I think these were both as the Mighty Wah! That is what the CDs say, anyway)

Mighty Wah! -'Come Back.' mp3

Mighty Wah! -'The Story Of The Blues.' mp3 (1982 Festive Fifty, No.7)*

The song Shipbuilding was written by Elvis Costello in 1982, about the Falklands War and Robert Wyatt recorded it first, nearly topping the Festive Fifty in 1982. Elvis Costello recorded his own version for Punch The Clock in 1983. Both versions are fantastic, Wyatt's version and piano are gorgeous, though Costello's version is great too, and features Chet Baker on trumpet.

Robert Wyatt -'Shipbuilding.' mp3 (1982 Festive Fifty, No.2)

Elvis Costello -'Shipbuilding.' mp3 (1983 Festive Fifty, No.48)

And in different guises, Coventry also had a fair amount to say about social issues of the time, both at home and abroad.

The Specials -'Ghost Town.' mp3 (1981 festive Fifty No.21)

The Special AKA -'Free Nelson Mandela.' mp3 (1984 Festive Fifty No.41

As 'New pop' replaced or post-punk evolved, depending on your point of view, there were certainly many bands who were commercially successful on in both the charts and the festive fifty (even Frankie Goes to Hollywood made the Festive Fifty in 1984, with their nine-weeks-at-the-top-of-the-proper-charts Two Tribes). Though Peel bemoaned on his 1994 Festive Fifty that some of the records had made the chart, and where had he gone wrong, it's probably fair to assume he had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. These are both from 1982:

Yazoo - 'Only You.' mp3 (1982 Festive Fifty No.12)

Associates -'Party Fears Two.' mp3 (1982 Festive Fifty No.14)

Peel also played Hip-Hop when no-one else on Radio 1 was doing so (Peter Powell reportedly once told him that he shouldn't on the grounds that Hip-Hop was the music of Black hooligans, allegedly).

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five -'The Message.' mp3 (1982 Festive Fifty no.3)

Erik B & Rakim -'Paid In Full.' mp3 (1987 Festive Fifty no.27)

* There are several different versions of this track in existence, including the Parts 1&2 version that Peel played on one of his last ever broadcasts in 2004. I have put the 'Part 1' version here.

Presenting...Dirty Summer

Right...on with the new music!

Dirty Summer are Brodie A L Wishart (bass/vocals), Fergus Christie Jack (keys/vocals), and The Banister (drums/cleaning). They make fantastically raucous pop music that sounds like they are taking the mick out of everyone and everything. Given that I never never met John Peel, this might sound presumptuous, but I think I can safely say he would have loved Dirty Summer.

They say they sound like 'Car Crash Pop' -and they do. In the best possible way. They hail from Dunfermline, Fife and remind me of those other scots nippers that have bothered proggers and boring grown-ups over the years, Bis and The Prats. Give these a listen...

Dirty Summer -'War Is Bad Bono Is Great.' mp3

Dirty Summer -'Knees.' m4a

...and if you like them, pop along to their MySpace and make friends. Only cold nast people are unfriendly.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Festive Fifty Theme

First of all, thank you to everyone who has been in contact with details about new acts; I'm going to try and go through it carefully and give my considered opinion about what to post; so if you don't see yourselves posted immediately, don't take it personally!

I was considering posting some other stuff today, reflecting on what might make my Festive Fifty at the end of the year, and found my mind drifting to the great man of the Festive Fifty, John Peel.

So, with a big nod to Steve (and not Mike, as I mistakenly called him earlier!) over at the brilliant Teenage Kicks, a brilliant Peel-related blog, here are ten tracks that made John Peel's Festive Fifty over the years.

Given that he often got frustrated at some things being unadventurous, and there being 'too many white boys with guitars' I have tried not to fall into the same trap.

Bang Bang Machine -'Geek Love.' mp3 (No.1 1992 Festive Fifty)

We've Got A Fuzzbox and we're Gonna Use It -'Rules And Regulations.' mp3 (No. 31 1986 Festive Fifty)

Future Sound Of London -'Papau New Guinea.' mp3 (No.11 1992 Festive Fifty)

Half Man Half Biscuit -'The Trumpton Riots.' mp3 (No. 14 1986 Festive Fifty)

Althea & Donna -'Uptown Top Ranking.' mp3 (No. 2 1977 Festive Fifty)

Teenage Fanclub -'The Concept.' mp3 (No.6 1991 Festive Fifty*)

The Bhundu Boys -'Foolish Harp/Waerara.' mp3 (No.30 1987 Festive Fifty) (Steve from Teenage Kicks has got in touch and pointed out that it wasn't this version that made the chart. However, it is fabulous!)

Kenickie -'Come Out 2nite.' mp3 (No. 1 1996 Festive Fifty)

This Mortal Coil -'Song To the siren.' mp3 (No. 4 1983 Festive Fifty, No.10 2000 Millennium Chart)

The Delgados -'Mr. Blue Sky.' mp3 (No. 29 2002 Festive Fifty)

For more on John Peel and fansites start here

* 1991's Festive Fifty was known as the Phantom Fifty as John felt it was too predictable, topped as it was by Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and not featuring the dance sounds he'd been plugging that year. It was eventually unveiled, track by track over 1993).

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Album Review: Love Is All

Love Is All 'Mixed Up'

Remix albums can be tricky affairs, sometimes opportunistic cash-ins and stop-gaps, as the record company waits for the next album or doesn't feel that the time is quite right for a greatest hits compilation or stage musical.

Great to report, then, that this remix album of Love Is All's 2006 album Nine Times That Same Song is actually ten excellent remixes that are different in sound, yet most impressively manage to work together well as an album in it's own right. The Bees take on 'Make Out Fall Out Make Up' into something that is completely different from the original, Maps' version of 'Turn The Radio Off' is simply gorgeous and when you know that Chicken Lips and hot Chip have also remixed tracks, you know it's a stormer that provides an fantastic listening experience and works well as a party album.

No shoddy cash-in, but a rare example of an fantastic opportunity used to brilliant effect.


Love Is All...Mixed Up is out on January 21 2008 on Parlophone. Love Is All are currently writing a studio album in Gothenburg for 2008 release.

From Love Is All...Mixed Up

Love Is All -' Make Out Fall Out Make Up (The Bees Version).' mp3

Love Is All -'Turn the Radio Off (Maps remix).' mp3

Love Is All -'Felt Tip (Hot Chip remix).' mp3

From Nine Times That Same Song

Love Is All - 'Make Out Fall Out Make Up.' mp3

Love Is All -'Ageing Had Never Been His Friend.' mp3

Love Is All -'Busy Doing Nothing.' mp3

Friday, January 18, 2008

Six For Friday's Friday. Rather braindead, but thought I would share half a dozen good songs with you:

Melys -Chinese Whispers.' mp3

Panda Bear -'Comfy In Nautica.' mp3

Billy Bragg -'Greetings To The New Brunette.' mp3

Luke Haines -'Going Off My Rocker At The Art school Bop.' mp3

iLIKETRAINS -'Spencer Perceval.' mp3

Woody Guthrie -'This Land Is Your Land.' mp3

Hope you have a good weekend...and cheers to the lovely Mrs. 17 seconds, as we have now been together for three years!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Presenting...A Classic Education

Something new for you (my quest is endless; in the words of the late, great John Peel: 'I Just Want to Hear Something I've not heard before.') This time from Bologna, Italy.

Cheesy euro-pop? A fusion of opera and metal?

Don't stereotype and put your expectations aside. A Classic Education are three men: Jonathan Clancy, Paul Pieretto & Luca Mazzieri who play a myriad of instruments and make some of the most gorgeous music you will hear. This is gorgeous, atmospheric indie music in the vein of the Decemberists, and Arcade Fire, whom they have supported. And if you like iLIKETRAINS, then I reckon they might be up your street too.

From the emails I've exchanged with them, I understand that they are not signed at the moment, but that's surely only a matter of time.

Give these mp3s a listen:

A Classic Education -'Stay Son.' mp3

A Classic Education -'Victories At Night.' mp3

Then if you like what you hear, pop over to their MySpace and make friends.

...Why deny yourself the pleasure?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

For Those Who Stand Alone - Presenting the Lonely Fires

Last year, I wrote about an unsigned band from Glasgow called Serpico, who I was very excited about and who I thought had some fantastic guitar tunes and deserved to do well. They still have some great tunes and they are now called The Lonely Fires, and have a new drummer...though they are very cagey and discreet about who is actually in them, acording to their MySpace- no-one! Mystique is always good...However two members of the band emailed to get in touch and also sent me some mp3s, so see what you think of these:

The Lonely Fires - 'No-one Song.' mp3

The Lonely Fires - 'Sophia.' mp3

The Lonely Fires - 'Lullaby.' mp3

And as ever, if you like what you hear, go and make friends with them at their MySpace page.

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Music -The Low Miffs

First of all, a tip of the hat of respect is due to Song, By Toad for bringing my attention to The Low Miffs. A Glasgow band who are apparently unsigned (then aren't all the best new band these days?) but have done a couple of 7"s, they are working with none other than the legendary Malcolm Ross. They remind me both of the best of early 80s indie post-punk stuff (Fire Engines, Josef K, Orange Juice obviously!) but there's also a great dark element in there, too.

Give these two tracks a listen and then pop along to their MySpace and say hi. Oh, and go along to Song, By Toad where there is much more on them.

The Low Miffs -'Where Are Your Songs Now?' mp3

The Low Miffs -'Earl Grey.' mp3

Album Review: British Sea Power

British Sea Power -'Do You Like Rock Music?' (Rough Trade)

A little while ago, I said that this was one of the releases of 2008 I was really looking forward to. So, how does it shape up?
First things first: ignore that godawful title. Sounding like the band are going to be horribly rockist (as the original post-punkers used to say) or alternatively, painfully clever-clever, it is neither of those things.
Perhaps if there is an immediate reference point -and this has been flagged up already- is fellow Rough Trade labelmates Arcade Fire, with the dreamy epic flavour to it that often is found on the Canadians' albums. Apparently Arcade Fire are fans and this seems to spill into the record.
2003's debut The Decline Of British Sea Power had a playful experimental feel at times, which seemed to be missing on the follow-up, 2005's Open Season. Instead, the epic dreamyness is there with some genuine emotional ups, that sound fantastic on record and no doubt even more amazing live.
First single 'Waving Flags' has already made the Top 40 in the UK, and there are plenty of other excellent tracks here, including 'Lights Out For Darker Skies,' 'No Lucifer' and 'Power Down On The Ground.'
Having played this album twice already, and found it more rewarding on the second listen, this is another excellent album from British Sea Power, containing their gorgeous songs, with still an element of the sheer 'what are they on?' that made them so intriguing in the first place.


Do You Like Rock Music? is out now on Rough Trade records

British Sea Power -'Lights Out For Darker Skies.' mp3

British Sea Power -'No Lucifer.' mp3

British Sea Power -'Power Down On The Ground.' mp3

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Something Old, Something New...Definitely Something Blue

The two ladies above, Shunda K & Jwl. B are from the fabulous as anything
Yo Majesty. Yo Majesty hail from Tampa, Florida. In a world where some people make out that they are anti-establishment, but are pretty anti-anything that threatens the status quo (and Hip-Hop can be like that), Shunda and Jwl are more in your face than any one on the planet right now. They make great party music, and the YO! EP is available at eMusic now. If Club Action doesn't have you punching the air in delight, then too bad.
Oh, and they're both Lesbians, and fiercely out about it. Get your ears round this:

Yo Majesty -'Club Action.' mp3

Mean while, I spent years trying to work out what this song was, and who was responsible for it. Turns out it's by someone called Cristina, who was part of the New York scene in the early eighties. This track doesn't sound dated at all, and could slay a club tonight:

Cristina -'What's A Girl To Do?' mp3

If you like what you hear, go and investigate and support the artists involved!

Hope you are having a good weekend, Ed

Saturday, January 12, 2008


...hey, if the track below floats your boat, you might like to hear and read some other great stuff over at another blog I co-write along with ...sixteen others (at the last count, anyway) called Fun and Heartbreak.

Pulp -'Common People (Live at Glastonbury '95.' mp3

Thursday, January 10, 2008

...Brain meltdown

...very was fine but cannot think of anything really focused to write...

so I hope you enjoy six quality songs whilst I try and focus again...

Sparks -'This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us.' mp3

Specials -'Ghost Town.' mp3

Rogers Sisters -'Never Learn To Cry.' mp3

Feist -'1234.' mp3

Tokyo Police Club -'Nature Of The Experiment.' mp3

The Ragga Twins -'Illegal Gunshot.' mp3

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Friendly Fires

Another new-ish band I have been meaning to post on for a while, and actually heard before Christmas...but anyway.

I'm not an authority on Friendly Fires but they sound pretty great to these ears. if you are a fan of where indie attitude meets ear-freidngly electronica with a few Talking Heads influences thrown in, then you should definitely give them a listen. Particularly if you like Hot Chip -though no doubt someone out there can explain to me why they are nothing like Hot Chip. There are a couple of singles/EPs available through either eMusic or iTunes but no album as yet.

See what you think...bit of a brief post tonight as the drive home took three hours and I am braindead.

Friendly Fires - 'On Board.' mp3

Friendly Fires -'Paris.' mp3

Let me know what you make of them...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Parka: Disco dancers? If ya wanna...

I'd not even heard of this band before today, I really must pay more attention... : ))

Parka hail from Glasgow, are signed to Jeepster (who originally signed both Belle and Sebastian and Snow Patrol), and are now London-based. OK, I grant you that name doesn't sound great, but the songs are fab, and they're playing all over the UK in the next three months (just check their mySpace). They have released two singles so far, 'If you Wanna', back last May, and the 'Disco Dancer' single which came out today.

I'll be honest, I really like what I've heard so far, so I'm not going to post the original versions, but give you a taster of what they have to offer:

Parka -'If You Wanna (XFM acoustic session).' mp3

Parka -'Disco Dancer (Si McEvoy's Trash Fash remix).' mp3(Website mp3)

Parka -'The Glass.' mp3 (From The Disco Dancer single)

Parka -'Closing Time.' mp3 (From MySpace)

Make friends at their MySpace here and visit their website here

More great stuff for 2008 - Presenting The Sessions

The Sessions hail from London. I have been playing their stuff on the iPod a fair bit over the last few days, and it grows on you more and more with every listen, as all the best stuff should. They are currently unsigned, but have two releases available through iTunes and are playing Alan McGee's club, The Queen Is Dead, in February. Sit up and take note!

The Sessions -'So Wanna Go.' mp3

The Sessions -'What Is This Feeling.' mp3

and if you fancy some remixes and re-recordings...

The Sessions -'What Is remix.' mp3

The Sessions -'So Wanna Go 2008.' mp3

There are two EPs available through iTunes UK, the Troubled Life Of No-one Else and What Is This Feeling?

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Talk about gigs you wish you had been to. Imagine seeing the Cure and Joy Division on the same bill. For a Pound. *Sigh*

Or getting to see Edinburgh The Scars with The Cure.

Still, I have seen the Cure five times over the years, so I cannot complain.

This Scars track was not on their re-issued Author! Author! album last year, but seems to be much in demand, so here goes:

The Scars -'Adult/ery.' mp3

The Scars' Myspace is here

Saturday, January 05, 2008

More great stuff for 2008 - Presenting Small Crew

Well, no-one can say that 17 Seconds doesn't try and bring you the best in new music (not that anyone has, but anyway).

Back in October, I became mySpace friends with a rather wonderful act called Small Crew. they are somewhat enigmatic, their MySpace claims that they come from Armenia, although I suspect this may not be entirely true. As for band members, they say 'We Are The World.' Uh-huh.

From God Is In The TV zine I learned this:

"Small Crew is Richard Adderley and Dan Edwards (formerly of bands like The Boyfriends, The Lucas Group and Vermont), although neither is necessarily on any given Small Crew Recording. Small Crew is whoever is in the room at the time when Small Crew music is being made. Small Crew can also be at the end of a phone line, in the post or on a computer, radio or television. If you aid, facilitate or enjoy Small Crew activities, you are Small Crew. Activity is currently limited to this planet but this is purely for technical reasons. Small Crew make any kind of music depending on what's in the room or who's on the phone. They like singing and dancing and they like to keep it dirty. Small Crew are not a collective. They are a combo. "

They released a download only single on Boxing Day, called um, Boxing Day. These three mp3s were sent to me, and jolly fab they are too. If you like Shoegazing indie type stuff (ok, I know that label has not found favour with everyone over the years but still...) try this:

Small Crew -'Boxing Day.' mp3

Small Crew -'Getting Up.' mp3

Small Crew -'Too Far Away.' mp3

Pop along and make friends with them at their mySpace
And, as ever, I would like to know what you think...

Some Covers For Saturday Part IV

Ok, I know I might have posted some of these before, but if you haven't heard any of these before, I really think you ought to!

These tracks were on a 12" single in 1992, and can now be found on a Nick cave compilation called Rarities...

Nick Cave and Shane MacGowan -'What a wonderful World (Louis Armstrong cover).' mp3

Nick Cave -'Rainy Night In Soho (Pogues cover).' mp3

Shane MacGowan -'Lucy (Nick Cave cover).' mp3

Dinosaur Jr's take on the Cure's classic as become legendary:

Dinosaur Jr -'Just Like Heaven.' mp3

This was a split 7" single a couple of years back:

Franz Ferdinand -'Get Up And Use Me (Fire Engines cover).' mp3

Fire Engines -'Jacqueline (Franz Ferdinand cover).' mp3

These three songs are probably my favourite three cover versions of all time:

Schneider TM -'The Light 3000 (Smiths cover).' mp3 (AKA There Is A Light That Never Goes Out)

This Mortal Coil -'Song To The Siren (Tim Buckley cover).' mp3

Jeff Buckley -'Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover).' mp3

Three songs I haven't posted before:

Siouxsie and the Banshees -'This Wheel's On Fire (Julie Driscoll and the Brian Auger trinity cover).' mp3

Maria McKee -'Has He Got a Friend For Me? (Richard Thompson cover).' mp3

Elf Power -'Upside Down (Jesus and Mary Chain cover).' mp3

Friday, January 04, 2008

Some Covers For Friday Part VI

Well, it feels like ages since I've done a 'proper' covers only post. Let's get going...

Sons & Daughters -'Killer (Adamski/Seal cover).' mp3

Pet Shop Boys -'Always On My Mind (Elvis Presley cover).' mp3

Yo La Tengo -'Dreams (Fleetwood mac cover).' mp3

Tralala -'Never Understand (Jesus and Mary Chain cover).' mp3

Slowdive -Some Velvet Morning (Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra cover).' mp3

The Shins -'We Will Become Silhouettes (Postal Service cover).' mp3

BTW, two bits of info that may be of interest to you:

1) This afternoon I did a 'phone interview with James Allan of Glasvegas fame (see below) and will write that up a.s.a.p.

2) This afternoon I received an email from Colin at And Before The First Kiss, asking if I would like to be involved with another mp3 blog he is assembling called Fun and Heartbreak. Well, obviously, yes! I haven;t yet posted over there, but I will.

Watch this space...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Jocasta Sleeps

I should apologise, first of all, for the length of time it has taken me to write about this band. I recived an email and some mp3s before Christmas and the notification that they were playing live, and the intention was good, I just got caught up in other things.

Anyway, another great new band from Scotland, who also deviate from the art schol-postpunk mould that may yet eat itself in 2008, Jocasta Sleeps have some excellent tunes that have to be heard. Last night, unable to sleep in bed, I flicked through my iPod and put them on. Again. Great, great stuff.

Jocasta Sleeps -'Old Ideas.' mp3

Jocasta Sleeps -'Beautiful Dreams.' mp3

Jocasta Sleeps -'Baggy Needles.' mp3

Download these and see what you think, and let me know. If you like them, pop along here to their mySpace and make friends with them. As yet unsigned -but it shouldn't remain that way for long.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Glasvegas - Scottish indie's Next big Thing for 2008?

A few years back, 2004 I think, I got a phonecall from my little brother, to tell me how much he loved the latest compilation tape I'd made him. In particular, he said, what he really loved was 'Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?' by the Wedding Present, particularly because David Gedge sang in his own accent.

It's particularly this honesty of singing in your own accent that is one of the things that appeals about Glasvegas. (Seriously, in the 80s, Big Country didn;t feel comfortable singing in their own scottish accent, and the proclaimers were mocked for doing so). Bigged up by Alan McGee for sometime (and if you are foolish enough to let this put you off, it's your loss), Glasvegas' single 'Daddy's Gone' was the runner-up single of the year in the NME writer's poll. I heard it after I'd finally done the 17 Seconds 2007 Festive Fifty and was promptly kicking myself. The description of the band as being like 'doo-wop' with guitars is not far off. the sense of aching sadness that 'Daddy's Gone' delivers is something really special. If this doesn't move you, more fool you.

Glasvegas are currently unsigned, and Daddy's Gone sold out long ago on 7", though it can be bought on iTunes. Their official site is here and their MySpace is here.

Here are a few tracks -which have admittedly been floating round the blogosphere for a little while, but which I think you should hear:

Glasvegas -'Daddy's Gone.' mp3

Glasvegas -'Geraldine.' mp3

Glasvegas -'Go Square Go.' mp3

Glasvegas -'It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes me Cry.' mp3

As always, if you like what you hear, let me know, and go and make friends with them on MySpace.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

...and I've got another one for you, another one of my MySpace friends.

I know next to nothing about Call To Mind, other than they are scottish and currently unsigned, and their four members are Andy, Jamie, Joe and Martin. They don't even list their influences on their MySpace page, but I hear bits of Boards Of Canada, Sigur Ros and Mogwai (minus the 'heavy' bits). How to describe them? Indie? Too vague. Ambient? Part of me wants to say 'shoegazing' but somehow this is something different. Of this sounds like your bag you might have to figure it out for yourself. But this is music born of the severe winters of scotland and the beauty that still lies in it.

There are six tracks on their MySpace page, of which these two are my favourite:

Call To Mind -'Untitled.' mp3

Call To Mind -'The Collapse.' mp3

The other four tracks can be downloaded from their MySpace page, and if you like these, I suggest you do so!

Any info gratefull received...etc..