Hats off to the Scots!
SCOTLAND – THE REAL LAND OF SONG?
It’s been just over a decade since I ventured north to Scotland (pre-blog) and while I’m not knocking being Welsh I have to admit our being known as the ‘land of song’ seems a little strange when you consider both our major bands (the Manics and Stereophonics are now industry veterans with very little coming through, save for possibly Gwenno). And Scritti Politti (our Blue Nile in terms of output) are even older.
The Scots by comparison have held a formidable consistency since the early eighties and continue to delight with a sonic palette we can only dream of. Glasgow is more than worthy of its place as a music city. Sadly it doesn’t hold much in the way of a backpackers scene the way Edinburgh has harnessed for years hence I couldn’t stay as long as I’d like to have.
In addition this blog was first published in November of 2019 which seems a long way back now. Since then – no glittering prizes for guessing – the world has been held ransom by a pandemic and more importantly, some of the artists here have issued new albums.
So what’s new? I have expanded the Simple Minds entry, reviewed the new Del Amitri, and Deacon Blue records (Fish and CHVRCHES Screen Violence coming soonish). I’ve also added Jerry Burns, so without further ado here’s what I’ve enjoyed from the northern wonder over the years. Note this blog now runs to over 11,000 words so grab yourself a tea, coffee or dram and enjoy, Oh, it also includes an affiliate link…
While Donovan, Lulu, Al Stewart, Pilot, the Bay City Rollers, Gerry Rafferty and to an extent Sheena Easton and Barbara Dickson had put and kept Scotland on the musical map, the eighties would require a new approach. Simple Minds (along with the Postcard records crowd) showed the Scots could take on post punk and the shock of the new wave and thus keep the ball rolling.
Beginning in the late seventies it wasn’t until the early eighties that their work began to gel and filter through to a bigger global audience. Love Song was the first thing I was aware of, a blitz of the future as bright as Brasilia’s architecture with those opening synth bars. But these were no boys from Brazil, it’s hard to believe this was emanating from deepest darkest Glasgow at a time it really was deep down and dirty.
I wouldn’t hear Sons and Fascination for a while but its hypnotic collision of wide screen America and the cooler grooves of continental Europe (This Earth That You Walk Upon, the title track and Seeing Out the Angel) would prove a more crystalline vision of what they attempted and to some achieved with Empires and Dance. I still love the film noir schizophrenia of Twist-Run-Repulsion.
In those days the music was coming thick and fast and it wasn’t long before Promised You a Miracle and Glittering Prize heralded the magnificent New Gold Dream album; the ethereal, new wave and funk seemed to combine and more importantly sound sublime by its design. Malcolm Garrett again at the helm for its sleeve of semi-religious violet, crimson majesty.
Colours Fly and Catherine Wheel, Big Sleep and Somebody Up There Likes You are still among my faves. For others Hunter and the Hunted with its spellbinding Herbie Hancock solo and King is White and in the Crowd reign supreme (not that I dislike them but for me it took time for their wonderment to gain access to my cranium).
Sparkle in the Rain is very much their love it or hate it album. Granted they did have to change direction, they would have sunk otherwise. Remember China Crisis? But there were some gems or should I say sparkles amid its crashing drums and rampaging guitars.
Book of Brilliant Things, East at Easter (which continue to be reinterpreted for the stage) and Shake off the Ghosts all good markers of a band in transition. The latter was a harbinger to their ten minute A Brass Band in African Chimes, b-side of what Jim Kerr calls their ‘bastard son’ Don’t You Forget About Me which some call their death knell. Whatever your opinion it’s an enduring classic.
Like many acts of the New Wave they began to falter during the latter half of the eighties, a live album (nice cover) and the folk imbued Street Fighting Years could be called missteps but again the irregular beat of Kick it In kept listeners on their toes and This is Your Land is an understated beauty (as were the b-sides Saturday Girl and Year of the Dragon). Big Sleep was also reimagined at this time as a stunning slice of drama – hear it on the Kick it In Singles or Themes 4 box set or here.
Unlike some the Minds entry into the nineties was a relative return to form in which Kerr emphatically told us to ‘quit dreaming this is Real Life – baby!’ Some nice bits and bobs ring true on African Skies, Banging on the Door (very SM but with period congas) and Theme for Great Cities resurfaces on Let the Children Speak.
Since then the bombastic rock of Once Upon a Time and Good News From the Next World 10 years apart as releases but vital rock albums have engaged me as has their cover of Neon Lights, New Sunshine Morning and is there anything more Glasgow than Graffiti Soul? Music to trudge those rainy streets to.
Big Music took its visual cue from Depeche Mode’s Music for the Masses but was a very well crafted and received album if not longing for some of Kerr’s prose of the past, I loved Human but let’s face it, it’s a boring title as is Magic which opens their Walk Between Worlds record.
A cover owing to Empires and Dance but more so their Celebrate compilation a few years before it. Having said that, Sense of Discovery proved they could borrow from themselves (Alive and Kicking) while pushing the boat forward.
Played over time (i.e since 1982). Also aired between October 13 and November 22, 2019 were Human on (October 13), Blood Diamonds (November 12), She’s A River, Night Music, My Life, and Criminal World on (November 16) and the unofficial Glasgow Suite; Rockets, Stars Will Lead the Way, Light Travels and Graffiti Soul on November 21 followed by The American on the 22nd. When you see a ‘played over time’ it means it’s a band I am quite familiar with. For this update The American was given an airing on May 10, 2021
*When you see a ‘played over time’ it means it’s a band I am quite familiar with.
Some bands fit a certain scene for a brief moment in time and I suppose Altered Images are one of those bands. Could they have made it to 1985 or ’87? BITE suggests they could have made the leap but for whatever reason it became their last hurrah. Happy Birthday (the album) is very much fitting of the post-punk/new wave genre; indie pop with cutesy girl vocals – Lena Lovich meets Minnie Mouse.
‘AI’s’ music is coming from a musical terrain commonly associated with Siouxsie Sioux, surprising how influential she was to the Scots (Cocteau Twins also infected by Siouxsie and her Banshees and possibly in turn by Altered Images). A Days Wait reminds of Teardrop Explodes.
Legionaire is a period (almost) instrumental save for Clare Grogan’s girly la la la’s, a band finding its way but at the same time showing early signs of the sophisticated pop greater achieved by their BITE album in ’83. The title track also achieves this and the fact they intro and outro’d the album with it says it all.
Pinky Blue continues the foppish indie moves and even touches on ska for Little Brown Head and a rather kitsch version of Neil Diamond’s Song Sung Blue (it was popular to cover older songs in the early eighties see also Midge Ure’s No Regrets, OMD’s The More I Want You, Human League’s You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling, Soft Cell’s Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go and Naked Eyes Always Something There to Remind Me).
New Romanticism in action and yes, Funny Funny indeed. Until now, I didn’t know too much about their albums but I do remember I Could Be Happy and a rather funny parody from Not the Nine O’Clock News (for those old enough to remember).
PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY AND ROMANTIC SCOTLAND IN SOUND
However it’s the music backing up the chorus of I Could Be Happy (during the ‘Get away run away far away how do I… escape from you?’) that gives us our first encounter of ‘Scottishness.’ It’s as difficult to explain as Englishness but it would also make an appearance many years later on the chorus of CHVRCHES Gun and also the opening bars of Simple Minds Big Music (the song).
Don’t get me wrong though, Scottishness is not confined to that key (see Blue Nile’s Downtown Lights below and also the desolate air of Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd’s Outside, Silence for examples). But this leads to other questions. Does psycho-geography extend to mood and also titles? Would anyone other than a Scotsman have come up with titles like Summer’s on its Way (Paul Buchanan) or Sparkle in the Rain (SM)?
Something else I didn’t mention on the first version of this blog is the romantic nature of the Scots. We often think of the romantic nations as Spain, Portugal, and Italy. The latin countries may be known for their passion but that’s not to say it doesn’t exist in Scotland.
The common perception of a night out in Scotland is it’s going to be freezing, it’s going to piss down and you run the risk of being smacked in the head in a heartbeat for looking at someone the wrong way. Now that could happen but so could it in Lisbon, Rome and elsewhere.
So romantic Scotland? Here’s a few that come to mind: You’re Beautiful (Love and Money), How Men Are (Aztec Camera), Saturday Night (The Blue Nile), I Remember Every Single Kiss (Deacon Blue), Safe in the Rain (Jerry Burns). Now back to Altered Images…
As far as Pinky Blue is concerned I Could Be Happy is simply streets ahead and again highlights what is coming on their swan song. Because of the pop bubble they found themselves in, the Images were somewhat misunderstood as a party pop band, which unfortunately underlies the musical genius of Johnny McElhone whose bass playing on BITE’s Another Lost Look and Love to Stay was inventive, quirky and cool.
But if AI were Scottish foppish pop this was peanuts to what Simple Minds were about to unleash in 1982 (and we know what that means no? See above). Beyond their short career AI members have turned up in Texas (the group) and One Dove. Don’t Talk to Me About Love remains one of the sassiest singles of the early eighties. Great comment on You Tube for that video.. ‘note to Rhianna, this is how to look sexy without taking your kit off every five minutes.’
played BITE August 16, Pinky Blue and Happy Birthday September 10, 2019
March ’83 and apart from Duran Duran I’m hearing this cool white funk out of Glasgow, it is Rip it Up and start again. Very cool then, very cool now! So cool it inspired a book of the same name and a music magazine a world away in New Zealand (which I did a couple of reviews for).
At the time I didn’t know of Simple Minds’ Sweat in Bullet but it seems the Scots have a penchant for making Glasgow the capital of foppish funk. Also unknown to me was that they managed three albums before Edwyn Collins went on to his solo shenanigans (cue kitsch hit A Girl Like You which was huge in Australia).
Falling and Laughing begins album one and like Altered Images above is full of foppish pride. Dying Day demonstrates Collins credentials as a unique warbler in the same boat as The Associates Billy McKenzie (also doing the rounds at this time with their classic Party Fears Two).
Satellite City is fresh and bright brass imbued indy-pop, could they be the Scottish Serious Young Insects? They might also have been an influence on fellow countrymen Travis. Some of this album also rekindles the new wave rockabilly of The Cars 🚗
Rip it Up, considering it was released the same year the sound has progressed to the white funk of the title track and the African flavourings conjured up by the backing vocals of drummer Zeke Manyika on A Million Pleading Faces. Mud in Your Eye has a neat orchestral segue into Turn Away.
There’s some reggae flourishes too with Breakfast Time and the long hot summer of ’83 resonates on the chorus of Flesh of My Flesh. For 1984’s almost self titled ‘The’ Orange Juice What Presence exudes the same indie cool elements of Lloyd Cole’s Rattlesnakes issued that same year.
played all three albums September 17, 2019
Ahh Rodders, don’t know much about the man Frame and his Aztec Camera (is there a connection there? Frame, Camera) other than he has a penchant for interesting producers. Anyone from Mark Knopfler to Ryuichi Sakamoto. Sometime in the late 80s he hit big with Somewhere in my Heart and Good Morning Britain. Yet it’s his first hit from 1983 that remains an endearing classic with its wordplay of obvious/oblivious.
All I Need is Everything from the second album not only sounds like a sequel but Modern Romance (the group responsible for High Life also in ’83). Fast forward to ’87 and Deep and Wide and Tall missed being a top 40 hit but was a little beauty not just because he’d been paying attention to Scritti Politti but in that he pushed the Aztec Camera brand forward without resorting to Oblivious part 3.
The pure pop adrenaline of One and One should’ve been a single but wasn’t, still great though. Paradise oozes pacific isle charm – Aztec Camera reporting from a south pacific hammock (shades of label mate Michael Franks but who cares). Some said he’d sold out with the mature Love album but don’t all artists evolve? It’s a very well executed work.
1990’s Stray is a funny old album, part driving rock (The Crying Scene, Get Outta London) and some swimming in the jazz-lite vibes of its predecessor. Spanish Horses (from Dreamland) was another that stalled in the mid 50s but again I’d rather this than some of those that hit higher. It’s a sunny as Spain itself with Flamenco clapping and (Jaco) Pastorius bass courtesy of ex-Roxy man Gary Tibbs. Nowadays he sails under his own name or perhaps he takes the bus from Killermont Street.
Played all albums on September 10, 2019
Their time in the spotlight was brief but these two girlie goths made an enduring impact with the wonderful Since Yesterday. So cute even the Japanese took a liking to them and if there’s ever a Hello Kitty movie, its usage on the soundtrack would be a must! Let Her Go and Ecstasy (Apple of my Eye)(not a million miles from Clare Grogan) continued in this vein.
But this doesn’t mean they couldn’t be quieter and moodier; Who Knows What Love Is might’ve been their worst performing single chart wise but I love the line about getting a glass of milk. Being Cold, Michael Who Walks by Night and 10 James Orr Street actually sound like (the) Cocteau Twins singing in proper English.
played October 17, 2019
Springtime in 1984 and a single appears on the radio. It goes by the name Pearly Dewdrops’ Drops. I hated it. In fact I can’t tell you how much I hated it. I was an arty kid but it was an artiness I was yet to grasp. I mean what the hell was she singing? And why would anyone buy it? But time, music and songs sometimes have a will to surprise.
In the early nineties while at a party my new art school buddy happened to possess just about every Cocteau Twins album there was (on CD). He played me Treasure. Hmm not bad. I could even have been me that took the initiative and slid Blue Bell Knoll into the CD disc tray and hit the play button. What I didn’t know was what was going to come out of the speakers. OK I’ll admit the title track didn’t exactly grab me but Cico Buff and much of the second side, sorry, the latter half of the disc. Holy bloody crap!! I wanted it!
A music mag at the time suggested that if when you die they are playing music like this then you must be heading in the right direction. Heaven or Las Vegas continued the roll in 1990 (one of the few bands to successfully make the leap from the eighties). This it could be said was their peak and they began a graceful slide before finally calling it quits around ’97, after all you couldn’t really maintain a career singing gobbledegook much beyond that (as the industry and its high flying pay days was itself in decline).
Played over time but also played an assortment (eg An Elan, Violaine, Pandora, Cico Buff and Pur) on the misty morning of November 14, 2019
‘So if I say save me, save me, be the light in my eyes.’ Summer ’87 and this beauty (Mary’s Prayer) sparkled across the airwaves – at least it did on a third attempt. I had the original 12″ culled from a bargain bin at Cardiff’s Spillers Records for 50p – well worth it. Mary’s Prayer was memorable not just for its glorious melody but for its exquisite use of word play ‘I used to be so careless, as if I couldn’t care less.’ Cymbal crash and applause please!
Next for me was the delicately delicious Davy from the same album Meet Danny Wilson (which for some God unknown reason I didn’t buy). And if anyone pens a musical homage to the granite city then Aberdeen is surely its leading musical accompaniment (i.e it sounds like it came straight out of a broadway musical and is the biggest musical clue to Gary Clark’s future – or part of it).
I Won’t Be Here When You Get Home is another deftly crafted affair owing to seventies Americana. Overall though, the first album oversteps the mark and is a touch too long in its entirety. Their second Bebop Moptop was also a bit iffy nonetheless Clark and co were still capable of saccharine sweetness in Never Gonna Be the Same, the single sporting a Parisian band photo, shot in the correct shade of blue filter (unless you had the 10″). I Can’t Wait is another worthy mention.
Danny Wilson and Gary Clark’s solo efforts (Free Falling a particular fave) remain the epitome of Scotland’s fixation with Donald Fagen and Steely Dan during the late eighties – one of their CD singles went by the name Strepzil Logic – and again that Scottishness is there in the music.
Ged Grimes (some lovely bass picking on Mary’s Prayer and Steamtrains to the Milky Way) went on to session work and later Simple Minds while Gary Clark – Scotland’s Mr Reliable – went on to be an in demand songwriter with Julia Fordham, Natalie Imbruglia and many others including soundtrack work.
When you consider he comes from the same country as Ricky Ross, Justin Currie, James Grant, Steven Lindsay (just about anyone on this blog) that’s one hell of a compliment! Long may he continue, be the light in our eyes or better still drive it like you stole it Gary.
played Meet Danny Wilson September 9, Gary’s Ten Short Songs About Love was played on September 18, 2019
THE BLUE NILE
An atmospheres band, something Wales has never managed thus far. I think I was aware of Tinseltown and Stay yet it wasn’t until 1989 and that record (HATS) that I really got them. The Downtown Lights yields a late night imagery and it’s very definitely a Scottish street and its orange street lights that I picture when I listen to it.
I wouldn’t say it was my favourite though, not that it’s bad but on an album that has From a Late Night Train, 7am and Saturday Night I’d say Lights is somewhere in the middle for my affections. The follow up Peace at Last didn’t appear until June 1996 (the same month I became a graduate) and was by their standards a bit lack lustre. A ‘snore de force’ as Q Magazine put it.
High, another eight years later tried to capture the magic of HATS but nothing comes that easily in the world of the Blue Nile. They saw the world, it felt like a movie.
played over time (for this blog I happened to play The Wires are Down September 13, Sentimental Man and Midnight Without You on November 3, and Automobile Noise on November 14, 2019)
Not that I knew it at the time, but Jimme O’Neill was a member of Fingerprintz – very 80s that and you’ve got to admire anyone who comes up with titles like Beat Noir and Haunted Cocktails haven’t you. Getting onto the Silencers, Painted Moon (never knew it was about the Falkland’s War) and A Letter From St Paul were the moth to the flame.
The songs were a bit too long and rambled a bit but it was and is a very warm and bright album, it was probably their Rio. Listening back to it now, it’s dated a little, particularly Bullets and Blue Eyes. Incredible when you think Calum Malcolm produced the one and only HATS not long after. And Possessed still bores the hell out of me, the same way Simple Minds This Fear of Gods does.
I bought A Blues for Buddha without any hesitation but alas the most memorable thing aside The Real McCoy was the cover. They’ve since become a kind of Scottish Duran Duran by having three members with the same surname (although in their case they are related). The Fingerprintz aura hung close for the band’s final album of the nineties Receiving inspired by several beat writers and which O’Neill calls New Wave for the nineties!
played A Letter from St Paul and A Blues for Buddha October 23, 2019
LOVE AND MONEY
‘Take a ride on the sugar train’ the early hit produced by ex-Duranie Andy Taylor (you can probably tell from the Wild Boys noises and the snazzy Power Station-esque brass). Their sound crystallised for second album, Strange Kind of Love in 1988 heading toward sophisti-pop central, again not a million miles from Steely Dan (especially Jocelyn Square) although this time there was a legitimate reason in that Gary Katz produced it.
There were some great songs from that album; not least the title track which I went nuts about possessing a cassette single in a flip lid box with postcards. Up Escalator was also fun, light and funky. Walk the Last Mile wistful and emotive.
1991’s Dogs in the Traffic (produced by Steve Nye) passed me by – though I did note its arrival as I liked the cover (which didn’t work with the others above hence its omission). By the time The Devil’s Debt gambled its way onto the scene, we can see it’s not Steely Dan anymore, Grant’s band like so many others had graduated to a post-chart fodder kingdom with velvet seats blended with art house cinema to create a perfect brew.
Americana soul is still present but fermented like a fine Scottish whisky; a little like a Scottish Matt Johnson, The Triffids and Microdisney rolled into one. This blog has afforded me the time travel machine to go back and listen in to the albums I missed. James Grant another unsung hero of the word, just because they didn’t shift a gazillion units doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be regarded as one of Scotland’s finest.
played August 21, 2019
THE BIG DISH
As an art student I couldn’t help but notice Christina’s World named after said painting by Andrew Wyeth. An agonisingly minor hit in January 1987 delivered with assured confidence by Airdrie’s answer to Daryl Hall, fine seventies tinged AOR. A little later a 10″ single of European Rain was duly purchased in part due to the rather nice print of a church inside (a version of which appears above) but why the hell didn’t I buy Faith Healer!? Listening to them now, after 30 years, both sound as fresh as when they were released.
Could The Big Dish and its main creative force Stephen Lindsay be Scotland’s most underrated arty band? Quite possibly. The cover for second album Creeping Up on Jesus must have cost a fair bit. While I never got round to buying an album I did have a couple more singles, notably Miss America and Big Town which were more memorable for their b-sides – some absolute stunners on both. Good Way and He Stumbled on Some Magic for starters. Lindsay later abandoned the Big Dish name and produced two solo efforts Exit Music and Kite which I intended to cover here but may do so on another blog.
played September 9, 2019
HUE AND CRY
Strangely I bought Labour of Love as it reminded me of a sophisti-pop INXS! Brilliant and exuberant song but I refused on I Refuse. They graced my collection once more with Ordinary Angel which was a nice slice of MOR pop.
did not play for the blog but there is a lot to catch up on with these guys, time permitting.
I shall keep my opinions of If I Was to myself, after all every artist has a bad day at the office (if you can call a dosh raking number one a bad day at the office). Nonetheless the multi-talented Midge waltzed into my collection from Glasgow via Vienna with a couple of singles. One was his collaboration with Japan’s Mick Karn After a Fashion (the seven and twelve inches both had completely different covers, the former – above – photographed by Linda McCartney, the latter was a Death on the Nile styled shot from the Pyramids).
The other, the title track to his 1988 album Answers to Nothing which also had a stunner of an instrumental Honorare on its opposing side. I’ve used the portrait from the album above as the single’s painted imagery didn’t work with the other, same with the After a Fashion 12″ sadly but you can’t win them all. He is also responsible for some stellar moments in Ultravox (The Thin Wall) and Visage (the title track and of course Fade to Grey). I missed out on his 1980 tour recently but the fact he is still able to go out and play after 40 years is testament to his talent.
played Honorare May 14 2021 and the Ultravox and Visage tracks over time.
Having fled Marillion and the stratosphere they found themselves in, Fish enlisted John Giblin for State of Mind – still very relevant 30 years later! This came from his debut Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors, still a touch of Gabriel in there, and some celtic spice too.
Big label, big budget and big session players but it’s a pity Big Wedge is the second track after the brooding atmosphere set by Vigil. Wedge is followed by the only Fish single I ever owned State of Mind – The Company also comprises elements of celtic or jig – perhaps he’d been listening to Kate Bush. There’s a lot of understanding and not understanding in the lyrics.
In the nineties Fish went on to record many more records, which I’ve since played for this project. Internal Exile (1991): Much Of It Is Twee Scottish Infused Celtic Rock, and a cover version of Something In The Air which leads to… 1993’s Songs From The Mirror. There’s some great stuff on here. The Moody Blues Question, Boston Tea Party is perfect for him, and an updated funked up version of Genesis I Know What I Like which isn’t bad.
A mere year later he’s back with Suits, another album of 6, 7 and one at nearly 8 minute songs, Lady Let It Lie (All The Boys, All The Girls Chorus) is not bad. No Dummy is RnB flavoured, kudos to Fish for taking on such a genre and it’s not a bad effort, just rambles on a bit.
1997’s SUNSETS ON EMPIRE is of particular interest to me as it’s produced by Steven Wilson! The Perception of Johnny Punter is a good start, Tara (named after his daughter) is very light and again soulful for Fish! Jungle Ride also sees him break new ground with tablas and spoken word. Brother 52 is urban groove. Say it with Flowers added Tim Bowness to the writers table and borrows the guitar riff from no-man’s Lighthouse. Can’t say I’m impressed by the cover though, why didn’t they use the Fish logo?
RAINGODS WITH ZIPPOS: Mission Statement is a jaunty little number with brilliant lyrics about the the working life (a bit like Robbie Nevil’s C’est La Vie in terms of subject matter). Incomplete; a fine duet with Elizabeth Antwi. Faith Healer (not the Big Dish song but the Alex Harvey one) begins like Human League’s These Are the Days but only briefly, it’s a bit of a rocker.
The concise Old Haunts begins the Plague of Ghosts suite of songs again feat SW and is dusky serene, nice he can do something that isn’t an eight minute dirge. This album is good for shorter pieces, although it segues into Chocolate Frogs which in turn leads into Waving at Stars (drum and bass rhythm!) and then to the Raingods Dancing with the same piano refrain as the opening Tumbledown. One of his best albums.
Field of Crows – The one with the Van Gough sleeve, only featuring a strapping great Scottish guy on the front. Moving Targets is ok, great drumming from Big Country’s Mark Brzezicki. The Rookie has great lyrics but I think Zoo Class would have followed Moving better. Environmental disaster song Blind to the Beautiful from 2014’s A Feast of Consequences could be a sister to Del Amitri’s Nothing Ever Happens.
WELTSCHMERZ, a sprawling double inspired by the 1933 Hans Fallada novel begins with eight minute opener Grace of God. Man With a Stick I could imagine Phil Collins singing. The video for single This Party’s Over is brilliant, cynical but comical with it and the Wilson-esque title track is worth a mention.
played Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors October 27, 2021
played Internal Exile, Suits, Sunset on Empires December 22, 2021
played Raingods with Zippos, Field of Crows, and Weltschmerz December 23, 2021
March 1989 and I came close to buying Southside on cassette but it lost out to Japan’s Tin Drum (see the David Sylvian blog for more on that). I got it in the end and it’s an ok debut. Texas are in the unusual position of having a decent debut and having albums two and three burn out and then coming back with a fourth which for some reason captivated the record buying public.
Nowadays most bands wouldn’t get beyond album three, so Texas were a band that lived the proverbial nine lives landing on their feet a decade after first hit I Don’t Want a Lover entered the charts. It was dramatic, it had slide geetar and was as exotic to Glasgow as Japan (the group) were to south east London.
However it was the only time Texas would be so evocative and why they were being that in the first place in the late eighties was anyone’s guess – but it worked! I can’t rate all their stuff so highly, I wouldn’t care if I heard Summer Son again such was its high rotation during ’99 but they came good for Put Your Arms Around Me and Inner Smile.
did not play for blog however I did hear their reworked Truth and Soul sessions last year at Chez Dell’Armi and that was rather good!
Listening to INXS, Boom Crash Opera and King Swamp gave me an ear for melodic rock and these guys did it as good as anyone, the formers Andrew Farriss later producing them. Better Days, Money, Girls in Love and the title track, Taking on the World bolstered their debut in the late eighties. Christ, even the b-sides were worthy of attention; When You Love Somebody, Dance hinted at the funk aspects of the band, Coming Home and Prime Time all very well honed.
The early nineties continued the run with Steal Your Fire from a disappointing follow up Gallus. Suddenly in 1994 they were hip, frontman Mark Rankin, bleached his hair, Dante rapped on Someone Worthwhile and they covered Cameo’s Word Up to dazzling effect! A change of direction and name to G.U.N saw a backlash from fans (but not from me). It was a brave move but their fanbase wouldn’t accept change and soon after GUN (or G.U.N) blew themselves away, candles in the wind of melodic rock.
Sometime in the new millennium, they reformed without Rankin and since have travelled a rocky road with different front men eventually settling on original bassist Dante Gizzi. For 2012’s Break the Silence, Caught in the Middle and the title track are reasonable slices of rock or synth rock in the latter instance. No Substitute is nice (a bit like SM’s New Sunshine Morning). Innocent Thieves is anthemic rock, Running Out of Time country rock like Willie Nelson fronting Bon Jovi’s Lost Highway!
Frantic (2015) is like the kind of material BCO or INXS were doing in 1997. One Wrong Turn is more of the Lost Highway vein, the title track is less frantic but indie alt-country rock with strings like Lloyd Cole. Big City is also pleasant but – with the utmost respect to Jools and Dante – there’s no disguising that these are at best merely b-side material.
Even something like Prime Time from the first album extras is stronger. Never Knew What I Had is more 70s tinged rock and I wonder what it is that makes Scotland kings in this vein (as you’ll see below with Del Amitri and others).
So onto 2017’s Favourite Pleasures; glam rock has been simmering in the background on a few songs of this version of GUN and even further back when Dante was in El Presidente. On Here’s Where I Am it comes to the forefront (they would probably love BCO’s Gimme). However it’s Tragic Heroes that is easily the standout, a striking melodic anthem and sounds like something FEEDER might have made (Find the Colour for example).
Great version of the Beastie Boys You’ve Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party and Hot Chocolate’s Every 1’s a Winner. Like their heyday version of Cameo’s Word Up. GUN are probably the only band who could make a covers album you’d actually want to hear!
played all on September 18, 2019
Ricky Ross and his trusty crew are kind of a British Cock Robin if you like, a male/female fronted band (coincidentally on the same label) who make intelligent pop/rock and it’s that fact that probably killed off CR in the UK. Deacon Blue simply spoke to a British audience the way Peter Kingsbery and CR couldn’t (and as regular readers will know the French took to them and still do).
Back to Ricky and co and their rain imbued debut came in ’87 and I wasn’t too enamoured with its singles. Only after the second album did I find the jewels within the first namely Raintown’s title song, Loaded and Love’s Great Fears. However, it took Real Gone Kid to get me to the store – a powerful fun and uplifting song with an equally fun video in black and white with a photo booth.
They advanced their sound for Whatever You Say Say Nothing which I thought was quite ballsy before throwing in the towel in ’94. They’ve resurfaced a few times since and their albums The Hipsters and A New House both stand at 11 tracks, 39 minutes a piece, and are neck and neck for which is best. Let’s delve a touch deeper.
The Hipsters is really very good much like Cock Robin’s reunion albums in a way, slightly more indie sounding but much better than 2001’s Homesick. From the cover image I was expecting something between Lloyd Cole’s Rattlesnakes (again) and the Lightning Seeds first album (The Rest hints at it, The Outsiders delivers it, and It Will End in Tears continues it) but here they’re an anomaly – the rest of the album being much more dusky from the outset such as the pretty Here I Am in London Town.
The title track is really nice, great harmonising between Ricky and Lorraine who also does an eerily resplendent girly Lauren Savoy on Stars with its repeated refrain toward the end. Turn exudes the sedate evening mood and Laura from Memory goes one step further with bells on or at least one of those nice twinkly xylophone effects which, at the risk of sounding like a broken record again, recalls the seventies.
A New House begins with a song so bright you might need shades to listen to it! For John Muir is the kind of tune I can hear wrapped around one of those trendy adverts for some cool new service you might need – possibly Google (especially Lorraine’s cutesy ‘ha ha’s’ at the front). The title track follows on with another endorsement from Lorraine with the impassioned vocalising of ‘new house’ towards the end.
Suddenly it hit me, the albums have each others covers. A New House’s brighter songs should have The Hipsters cover and The Hipsters dusky tones would better suit the woodland image of A New House – it still isn’t bang on but would be better. Choosing between which is the better album is equally frustrating. There are some beauties on each. This time the dusky ones (John Muir, A New House, March, and I Remember Every Single Kiss) are the anomalies but very much worth it and every bit as good as their ‘heyday.’
For 2016’s Believers and it’s Ricky himself who takes the production helm for this one. Well almost with input from his band and if you think he and the blue crew have been slacking off these past few years, he’s also recorded a few solo albums in-between them and along with drummer Dougie Vipond, has a secondary career in broadcasting.
In March 2020 they followed up with City of Love with very snazzy artwork from d8.uk – which became their first top ten album since 1994! Pity about the timing and to that end they followed it with companion piece Riding on the Tide of Love a year later.
Not bad when you consider not only is he one of Scotland’s most sought after wordsmiths, still has hair and looks about 25! No wonder he’s always smiling. Whether it’s Real Gone Kids or new houses for old hipsters, welcome back the blue crew!
played the songs, forgot the date but I remember every single.. oh yeah the date, sometime in late September, 2019 (is that romantic enough?) City of Love played October 17, 2021
Scotland’s finest seventies band. So seventies in fact I’m surprised they didn’t have an Owl on their album covers or one of those hideous illustrations like Paulo Nutini has on his (no offence Paulo). Fortunately neither is the case and without further ado let’s get to the music in the sleeves.
So it’s 1989 and I’m hearing this thing on the radio ‘C’mon babe let’s kiss this thing goodbye’ but wait, we’d barely said hello and I needed to know about these banjo imbued Glasgow boys. Well not ‘need’ per se but it was a given to explore anyone ‘new’ but new they were not, well not exactly.
Their debut had apparently been issued four years earlier in 1985, not that anyone knew it, amid the mass selling (Songs from the) Big Chairs, Brothers in Arms and No Jacket Required’s of this world, so to most in 1989, the Dels were new which is kind of true when you consider said debut sounds nothing like Del Amitri and has more in common with the Levellers than the sophisticated band heard from Waking Hours onwards.
Still with me? Right, so following the kissing of the thing goodbye came Nothing Ever Happens. A neat folky tune about how wrong things actually are in said global context, like businessmen snapping up Van Gogh paintings for more than a hospital wing for example.It was fine stuff and deftly put by one Justin Currie and his mates but it was neither of these things that got me to the store.
Nope, that honour fell to… Stone Cold Sober and again it was so seventies it’s as if they’d gone back in time, stole a smattering of things around at the time and blended them into a cocktail of Glaswegian delights. Like many things (there’s a lot of things in Del Amitri land) out of Glasgow, they are good working class guys and as such you’d be likely to hear them on a pub jukebox on a Friday night.
Currie was aware of the foppish Scot scene of the early eighties but a foppish Del Amitri wouldn’t have worked. Had Waking Hours been the first album (as many consider it) its maturity may have been a contender against the big chairs etc but for that we would have to wait four years.
Flicking the pages forward a few more years to the annus horribilis of ’92 and we had the seventies according to the Dels volume 2 and this time we were listening – to Always the Last to Know. Lyrically it’s nothing new so much as another relationship gone sour or shite as the Scots would put it.
Yet the tune is as sunny as the bright blue spring sky on its release, a far cry from the very Glaswegian Spit in the Rain. The album was called Change Everything which could be called ironic in that it was hardly a departure from Waking Hours. Nonetheless it does feature one of my faves and an enduring beauty in When You Were Young.
Its follow up in the mid-nineties, Twisted was indeed a twist from the 1970-74 flavoured acoustic tunes (Here and Now and the pretty Tell Her This). Some of Currie’s vocals distorted by studio tech. It’s also a tad more heavy and rootsy, bluesy even (Food for Songs, Being Somebody Else). One of the songs caught the attention of the zeitgeist US of A.
An America and world firmly in the grip of sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S fever. Roll to Me was and is still a pretty two and a half minute ditty perfectly showcasing Currie’s wordplay. In the UK of EU it stalled at 22, but in the States it rolled all the way into the top 10! It seemed at home they were literally Driving with the Brakes On.
Though their songs were well crafted, what in the world were Del Amitri? Rightly or wrongly, the UK was entering its Brit-Pop years and this meant the material the Dels were peddling in 1997 was almost as unwelcome as a Genesis album at the time of Punk twenty years earlier.
As the band themselves put it, again nearing satire, (they) weren’t where it’s at and were treading the turf of some other sucker’s parade, although I’d rate the lead single with its ‘some girls..’ refrain recalling XTC and a chorus owing to fellow Scot Gerry Rafferty (at least to my ears). But while the band were giving their money’s worth, the albums were getting longer (an hour no less) as people’s attention spans waned. Even if you were an ardent fan of the band, an hour was just too much and most of it sounded tired.
One more album Can You Do Me Good attempted and achieved a shift in direction. It was a bold step and while most bands of Del Amitri’s ilk would simply retread the same ground the Dels move the boat forward with trip hop, loops and trademark harmonies over the top. Last Cheap Shot at the Dream is Del Amitri meets Owl City while She’s Passing This Way employs the kind of drum sound Lenny Kravitz uses.
In the height of the pandemic they somehow managed to ink a deal with Cooking Vinyl (via the communication tool de jour – Zoom) and record their first album in nearly 20 years. Fatal Mistakes proves Currie has lost none of his skill or bile as detailed on poetic lead single ‘Close Your Eyes and Think of England’ and his voice is still in tact especially good when he harmonises with himself.
Elesewhere, the opening You Can’t Go Back is sprightly enough, and It’s Feelings is the kind of thing Sheryl Crow could knock out in her hey day and dad rock at its finest – if that’s possible. Likewise, Missing Person begins in a similar fashion to Boom Crash Opera’s Dancing in the Storm for those that know the Aussie’s tune. Lonely is nice too but a lot of it is just there, and some is just boring! Nice cover though.
played all the albums on October 17, 2019, played Fatal Mistakes October 19, 2021
I know of some (Tim Bowness) who recommend their early works. Now I’m a bit iffy on Party Fears Two (complete with arty intro on the album version), I like that piano riff, that is indeed classic and his voice so unusual and unafraid to be overly operatic within a pop sensibility. However it wasn’t until their comeback single Fever that I went out of my way to purchase.
That was about it. Listening to The Affectionate Punch and Sulk for the first time as research for this blog (to see if I was indeed missing anything and sadly not – I know some will vehemently disagree). Apart from his vocal and they are playful on titles (Arrogance Gave Him Up, Nude Spoons, A Girl Named Property, Message Oblique Speech) – they might have been influential to Belle and Sebastian there.
A shift toward the funk pop that ABC were also dabbling in is better (Reach the Top, Fire to Ice) as is their cover of Blondie’s Heart of Glass (see the last no-man blog) from The Glamour Chase which was easily the best album of theirs I heard but again blocked by record company suits. Meanwhile if the Associates are your bag, see my Perry Blake album review blog if you’re looking for a Billy McKenzie soundalike, especially on Miracle.
Played all on October 14, 2019
As part of the Eurythmics her song shone bright and her voice soared. With 1992’s DIVA this continued. An album that like the Dels above was unfortunate to come out during a very difficult year but was a sonic delight to behold; warm and pastoral (Walking on Broken Glass), classy and motherly (Precious) but also conveying a worldly wise Annie as on Primitive.
Stay By Me has the nice Brazilian vibe going on and The Gift with The Blue Nile was influential to moi as I nicked a line from it for one of my Lyrical Oasis poems.
I can’t say I’ve kept in touch with her since save a few of the covers from 95’s follow up Medusa including the fun and funky take on The Clash’s Train in Vain. I seem to remember the album getting panned at the time (it was the same year Duran Duran unleashed Thank You) but it’s really not too bad: her covers of Whiter Shade of Pale, I Can’t Get Next to You, Thin Line Between Love and Hate, and Waiting in Vain are rather lovely. She even makes Neil Young and Paul Simon sound good (I almost cried listening to Something So Right). I just wished she’d done The Blue Nile’s Downtown Lights differently.
A full eight years elapsed before Bare was for use of a better work revealed, with an intentionally stark cover. It’s the third album produced (save for one track) by Stephen Lipson, the songs are longer and unfortunately it’s a bit of a snore fest.
A shift in the weather was needed and for Songs of Mass Destruction she enlists Glen Ballard. Dark Road – the single from this set is strangely Del Amitri-ish (I’m playing it right after Fatal Mistakes) and not too bad. The gallic rock of Ghosts in my Machine is sassy and yes there is a vocal that recalls Sting on Demolition Man (from the Police album Ghost in the Machine) which is fair enough, other than that it could’ve been a Shakespears Sister song – I could imagine Marcella Detroit banging this out.
Fans of Eurythmics will be pleased with Coloured Bedspread where I thought she was going to say ‘Who’s That Girl running around with you’ but she’s already been there. Sing blends the mature Annie with the electronic vibe running through some of the tracks. This is to date, her last album of original material. Christmas Cornucopia and Nostalgia followed. Her voice was still good and I overuse the word dramatic but for Nostalgia it’s very apt – the grey backdrop of the cover art echoes this.
did not play for original blog
played Medusa, Songs of Mass Destruction October 19, 2021
played Bare, and Nostalgia October 20, 2021
Another talent lost to the (Scottish) mists of time – see what I did there. Burns is living proof that something good did come out of 1992. Produced by Stephen Hague (along with Bobby Henry and Burns herself), these 10 songs envelope the listener in a cinema show that combines a seductive Barbara Dickson with the Blue Nile – and like Paul Buchanan she is something of an enigma.
Mixed by Bob Clearmountain and with Guy Pratt on bass, her eponymous debut would not have come cheap and considering its lack of success sad to say easy to see why the label (Columbia/Sony) would have dropped her thereafter.
The opening track, Pale Red, was also the first single which I bought at the time but for some reason passed on the album. Sometimes I want to slap myself round the head! Completely My Dear followed but having now heard it can’t think why it would even have been considered for a single release (unless it was Christmas). Oh wait, it was the time of dainty whimsey (Cocteau Twins, The Sundays).
Casually Unkind with its early nineties swing beat was bang on the commercial pulse but still ended up with Marc Cohn’s Walk Through the World With Me in swing beat purgatory. Crossing Over matches the covers rich brown aesthetic and there’s some neat clattering on the skins towards the end.
The closing Stepping Out Slowly dreamily ambles along like a black and white photograph gradually developing in the chemicals of a dark room somewhere. Again there’s a dash of Robin Guthrie in the guitar that guides the track out. There’s not really a duff track per se and sure enough this would be the kind of ‘stage and screen’ direction she would eventually continue with.
Highlights? For me, Pale Red, Fall for Lovers including an accordion turn by Hague and, Safe in the Rain (very Blue Nile-y strings on this and all the more gorgeous for it). Sometimes her voice soars and quite often she’ll offer a deft ‘hey’ or ‘yeah’ similar to Everything But the Girl’s Tracey Thorn only more well, sexy! Whether that was intentional or not I don’t know but let’s just say it’s rather effective!
There appear to be a plethora of other tracks attributed to Sony that never saw a commercial release. She is Stone, nice and short, Wings of Desire is again Blue Nile-y with the kind of percussion Steve Jansen is known for.
She’s resurfaced since but what she did between then is anyone’s guess (there’s a 17 year gap which is a bloody long time even for the Nile). Those Who Love Me Take the Train with Sally Herbert comes from a 2009 EP called Angel. Christ I’m prepared to hop on the Caledonian Sleeper tonight (so long as it doesn’t have a HITACHI chassis). Seriously though its brooding deep grey is a showcase for the dramatic arts. As mentioned above it’s coming from ‘stage and screen’ or the theatre rather than a pop aspect.
Powder is a duet with Love and Money’s James Grant and the drama really suits him. Both appear on Craig Armstrong’s It’s Nearly Tomorrow (2014) which also features… you’ve guessed it, Paul Buchanan. Another three years elapse and like time lapse photography she reappears on Glittering Light – from the Earthbound album by Starless which also has Steven Lindsay on a couple of tracks, (Scotland’s notable arts and crafts people appear to be on a roster, a trait or trope shared by many other countries).
2021’s My Beautiful Life is another ‘musical’ orientated piece, although it’s actually from a ballet, its sombre electronic flourishes are not too far from what Bjork was doing with say Vespertine or some of Hector Zazou’s work. Her voice here and on the track with Grant above crackle with frailty but that could be on purpose which makes her a singing actress of sorts. It also reminds a little of Dubstar’s Sarah Blackwood singing in a downbeat vocabulary.
Only on ‘Train’ does she sound comfortable in her own skin, more like the singer we know or knew from 1992. While a duet with Buchanan is but a dream (though he’s guested with Donna Lewis and Jessie Ware so I don’t see why Burns wouldn’t be a good vocal fit).
Today she spends much of her time working with Scottish ballet and photography which makes a great deal of sense and with a Twitter account suggesting a presence in Glasgow, New York, Barcelona (8 years – I could barely manage a month) and Paris clearly she’s doing something right.
Played across May 9, 10th, 13th 2021
The early nineties, a student. A time of bands like Bath’s UNATION who should have been huge but weren’t. One Dove fell somewhere between System 7’s ambience and Saint Etienne’s obscure quirkiness. The album also had its trippy moments.
It was clever, it was beautiful for misty mornings outside of dimly lit squalid student digs but it was only partially successful halting at 30. The single Breakdown pushed a little further but nothing could dent the top 20 and they dissolved like the morning fog. Dot has gone on to produce five albums (not including her acoustic items) before taking a breather.
played in July, 2019 for the Perry Blake album review blog
Still a new artist to me and already six albums into her career. Vocally she carries a bit more grit in her larynx than her fellow Scot’s lasses (Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, Hold On). Though aware of the former, it’s the follow up Suddenly I See that became the runaway hit.
A singalong verse and chorus but also of interest to me for that rare quiet passage, the part where she sings about the big strong tower, uber rare in hit singles and sitting slap bang in the middle of the second stretch of the record whoever picked it out as a potential single did a good job – nice video too.
Under the Weather, Miniature Disasters and Silent Sea all land in the cutesy pop vein and I don’t know if it’s happened but I could see her touring with Del Amitri. Her first album was produced by Steve Osborne in Bath (the place). I’ve always had a problem with 12 track albums and that’s the case with ‘Telescope,’ it overstretched itself (also like the Dels). I’d give it a 7/12 so not bad.
The same team reconvene for her second Drastic Fantastic with a cartoon inner booklet. Little Favours is a drab rocker, White Bird is a pleasant acoustic number (I’m listening to it on a rainy October day) but I would have followed it with Hold On instead of Funnyman. It’s all pleasant but if I’m being honest not a patch on her debut.
Billed as folktronica or indie pop on Wiki, Tiger Suit offers a new direction as it should do and was part recorded in Berlin. Push That Know Away was a brave choice to put out there because it’s an odd key. I could go into the intricacies of colour sound here but shall refrain, loosely speaking most radio hits are in what might be described as A List colours and this isn’t). Difficulty has a nice chorus but at 5.00 is too long (for me anyway). Fade Like a Shadow is better, Lost better again. Still A Weirdo is nice too.
But the underlying factor with Tiger Suit is that it sounds like a divorce album before she got divorced! Come On Get In is a mean little number ‘we’re going downhill’ with a cool video (again a cartoon element prevails in the bubble text, manic animated backgrounds with her as live action – works well). The pretty Entertainer rolls the shutters down on her third.
Of the cover designs most follow an illustrative or cartoon element. The one that stands out the most is Invisible Empire/Crescent Moon both for its typography and KT’s stark change of appearance.
Of the cover designs most follow an illustrative or cartoon (there’s that word again) element. The one that stands out most is Invisible Empire/Crescent Moon both for its typography and KT’s stark change of appearance. It isn’t the only shift, her voice is different on the soft country jazz folk of Invisible Empire.
Kudos to KT for taking on a different genre (in essence what Lady Gaga would do a few years’ afterwards) but by its very nature this album isn’t doing a lot for me. Everything is stripped back and beautifully produced, however it does contain Crescent Moon – easily the standout for me and reminds me a little of Bic Runga.
Her next – KIN – is again a shift in design both visually and in terms of sound, you could say it follows the Scottish aesthetic of the quirky and the strange (see earlier illustrative examples in this blog). There’s also an air of the folky fairy tale in some of her imagery and to that end she’s treading a similar terrain to England’s own queen of quirk Natasha Khan aka Bat for Lashes.
Produced by American Tony Hoffer the album kicks off with the Del Amitri tinged Hard Girls, not bad. Maybe It’s a Good Thing again is in a similar vein to the Dels, even her vocal phrasing is similar to Justin Currie’s. Evil Eye and It Took Me So Long to Get Here, But Here I Am are both upbeat with quirky videos (the latter is particularly cutesy) and her voice is a little more sassy. Two Way guests James Bay which is perfectly fine but yes, I could hear Justin Currie here too. Run on Home isn’t bad either.
WAX changes producers and in doing so shakes things up again, most of it doesn’t do a hell of lot for me but Poison in Your Cup is a rather nice slice of introspective acoustica in the vein of Fleetwood Mac. Guesting with Hall and Oates is a smart move and I can’t wait to hear the body of work she’s amassed so far.
did not play for original blog
played Eye to the Telescope, Drastic Fantastic and Tiger Suit on October 20, 2021
played Invisible Empire/Crescent Moon, October 26, 2021
played KIN and WAX, October 27, 2021
The eighties return with glittering synths (chorus of By the Throat for example), Day-Glo synths (Tether) set against beautiful melodies. Like the Cocteau Twins they seem to know what to do, when and how to do it. I mention way back in this blog that Gun (the song) contains that ‘Scottish’ effect but so too does the tourist remix of Lies (unusually better than the bands original).
Beginning on 2:42 and when it breaks on 3:48-5:24 offers a touch of Cafe del Mar on a dramatic grey skied day in Oban. Forgive my ambient musings here but that’s what I’m hearing and visualising.
And speaking of colour their single sleeves are beautiful but mostly in the wrong colours. However both the standard and special editions of Every Open Eye are stunners on a par with anything coming out of the eighties itself (think New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies meets Art of Noise’s best of).
You might think an eighties flavoured band operating in the second decade of this new millennium is a bit odd, but perfect for this blog in that they’re a retro band from the future working in the present and past at the same time; now I know how Brian Setzer’s rockabilly Stray Cats were probably looked on in the early eighties amid the alien nation synths of the new romantics.
Speaking of the second album the general consensus was that it paled in comparison to the first however it begins with one of my fave Chvrches songs of all Never Ending Circles which is near perfect.
Three albums in and Love is Dead is as the title suggests a little more angry in its lyrics e.g. ‘I told you I would hate you ’til forever.’ Never Say Die and opener Graffiti deal in love lost. Get Out’s saccharine laced lyrically sour ditty is pretty but more so sounds like an update of 1987 (not quite the way Bow Down does but still). It’s an understated third from them but its power comes through on repeated listens. In other words they are graduating beyond the more immediate songs on their first two albums.
Both Get Out and Deliverance play with the stuttering words like Duran Duran and Pseudo Echo did in the 80s (The Reflex ‘fle-fle-fle-fle-flex’ and Funkytown – well the 12” more so than the single but you get the idea ‘funky town tow-tow-town’). e.g. (can we) get out, get out get-get get out (of here) and Deliver, iver-iver-iver-ance.
Both of those are dressed in warm greys but the familiar CHVRCHES terrain is still there in the dusky burgundy’s and magentas found on My Enemy, Forever and Miracle. It’s an album I’m appreciating over time and I do like their playing with key/colour and texture – Heaven/Hell is a good example of this with wonky sounding synth and electric piano. Love the psychedelic-pop break between 3.25 and 3.55 too, original!
As always there’s one with Martin on vox but it comes too late. I’d suggest having him front say track 3 or 4. ii is a defect intro to the albums final moment Wonderland which continues the run of wonky electric piano mood music that the Cocteaus were doing with their Orange Appled and also The Moon and the Melodies with Harold Budd only with pop sensibilities similar to Get Out. I wonder what they’ll try on album four.
played Love is Dead – original date lost but re-played on October 28 and the first two albums over time but revisited them on November 13 for further research, investigation and embellishment (as I realised I hadn’t properly covered them here).
It’s got to be perfect and for a moment it was. I like Perfect but the age old problem of being overcooked by radio killed it. Likewise imagine my surprise when I discovered it was none other than singer Eddi Reader who murdered John Foxx’s 1985 single Enter the Angel.
Still, I don’t begrudge her, she was merely a session singer doing her job and it could have been John, himself a fan of the Scots bands, that gave the orders. The follow up to Perfect – Find My Love – was more pleasant than perfect as was the title of their album, who could resist the first of a million kisses?
WET WET WET
I’m not too big on these guys, however in the spirit of fairness they did possess one hell of a singer and occasionally pulled off some decent work giving Del Amitri a good run for their money as far as seventies tinged balladry was concerned with Angel Eyes and Goodnight Girl.
Very Little River Band for those that know the Aussie band’s Diamantina Cocktail record. Lip Service was also fun and clean cut soulful pop. Oh and ironically they took their name from a Scritti Politti song (adding an additional wet along the way).
Again not a fave band but Chance remains an engaging moment in early eighties Celtic melodic ‘soft’ rock and King of Emotion was a neat change in direction when they could have played it safe.
Naming themselves after the airport that became JFK in New York didn’t hinder their chances, ok I jest – it was from a book however I was pleased to see You Held the World in Your Arms in the UK top 10, good effort. Much to discover with this band but nine albums was a stretch too far for me at this time.
BELLE AND SEBASTIAN
Not too big on these guys either but I do like their creative quirkiness – who the hell would dare call an album Dear Catastrophe Waitress! A band not afraid to be themselves and sell the quirk to an unassuming audience, that way they’re punching well above their weight and their visual identity is as strong as The Smiths was in the eighties. Also have an air of Saint Etienne about them (the imagery).
And last but not least to Paolo. I may not have been so kind about his album covers (except the first one) but his talent speaks for itself. Again it’s only the first couple of singles I know so I can’t judge him too much here. It’s a question of time as to when I get round to them so apologise for the limited words, however…
OVERDOSING ON SCOTLAND’S SOUND ARTISTS
…it’s safe to say I’ve comprehensively overdosed on Scot-pop/Scot-rock these past few months, originally some 45 albums, now over 50 and I haven’t even covered them all! During the course of writing this blog, it evolved from simple overviews to full on extended entries featuring album reviews.
Likewise Deacon Blue’s entry extended on hearing their Hipsters and New House albums. I also intended to cover the solo albums of say Roddy Frame, Justin Currie and Steven Lindsay but need to draw a line somewhere.
I hope in the future to be able to do this but the blogs keep coming at a steady rate at the moment, more than enough for me to cope. With a blog rambling to over 10,000 what should I do? Create an ebook, or additional baby blogs? Tell me in the comments.
PLAYLIST AND CREDITS
SUBSCRIBE TO KULTURE KIOSK on the arrivals page and stay tuned with things here at Kulture Kiosk via THE ATLAS or on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram where you can see some of my photos from around the world. Blog originally posted November 25 2019.
Now to the playlist. I tried to narrow it down to five songs for each band but you can’t edit greatness, so here goes (it could be even longer!)…
I Travel (from Empires and Dance) – Simple Minds
Sweat in Bullet (from Sons and Fascination) – Simple Minds
The American (from Sister Feelings Call) – Simple Minds
Sons and Fascination (from Sons and Fascination) – Simple Minds
Colours Fly and Catherine Wheel (from New Gold Dream) – Simple Minds
Big Sleep (from New Gold Dream) – Simple Minds
Night Music (from Good News from the Next World) – Simple Minds
Neon Lights (from Neon Lights) – Simple Minds
New Sunshine Morning (from Cry) – Simple Minds
Big Music (from Big Music) – Simple Minds
Human (from Big Music) – Simple Minds
Sense of Discovery (from Walk Between Worlds) – Simple Minds
I Could Be Happy (from Pinky Blue) – Altered Images
Don’t Talk to Me About Love (from BITE) – Altered Images
Another Lost Look (from BITE) – Altered Images
Love to Stay (from BITE) – Altered Images
Falling and Laughing (from You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever) – Orange Juice
Satellite City (from You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever) – Orange Juice
Rip it Up (from Rip it Up) – Orange Juice
A Million Pleading Faces (from Rip it Up) – Orange Juice
What Presence? (from The Orange Juice) – Orange Juice
Oblivious (from High Land, Hard Rain) – Aztec Camera
We Could Send Letters (from High Land, Hard Rain) – Aztec Camera
Just Like the USA (from Knife) – Aztec Camera
All I Need is Everything (from Knife) – Aztec Camera
Deep and Wide and Tall (from Love) – Aztec Camera
One and One (from Love) – Aztec Camera
Paradise (from Love) – Aztec Camera
The Crying Scene (from Stray) – Aztec Camera
Spanish Horses (from Dreamland) – Aztec Camera
Since Yesterday (from Strawberry Switchblade) – Strawberry Switchblade
10 James Orr Street (from Strawberry Switchblade) – Strawberry Switchblade
Being Cold (from Strawberry Switchblade) – Strawberry Switchblade
Sigh’s Smell of Farewell (from Love’s Easy Tears) – Cocteau Twins
Cico Buff (from Blue Bell Knoll) – Cocteau Twins
A Kissed Out Red Floatboat (from Blue Bell Knoll) – Cocteau Twins
Iceblink Luck (from Heaven or Las Vegas) – Cocteau Twins
Evangeline (from Four Calendar Cafe) – Cocteau Twins
Violaine (from Otherness) – Cocteau Twins
Mizake the Mizan (from Iceblink Luck and Lullabies to Violaine) – Cocteau Twins
Watchlar (from Iceblink Luck and Lullabies to Violaine) – Cocteau Twins
Davy (from Meet Danny Wilson) – Danny Wilson
Aberdeen (from Meet Danny Wilson) – Danny Wilson
Mary’s Prayer (from Meet Danny Wilson) – Danny Wilson
A Girl I Used to Know (from Meet Danny Wilson) – Danny Wilson
Never Gonna Be the Same (from Be Bop Mop Top) – Danny Wilson
Halfway to Paradise (b-side to The Downtown Lights) – The Blue Nile
Automobile Noise (from A Walk Across the Rooftops) – The Blue Nile
From a Late Night Train (from HATS) – The Blue Nile
7am (from HATS) – The Blue Nile
Saturday Night (from HATS) – The Blue Nile
Our Lives: Lost/Bolivia/New York (from Saturday Night single) – The Blue Nile
Sentimental Man (from Peace at Last) – The Blue Nile
Days of Our Lives (from High) – The Blue Nile
She Saw the World (from High) – The Blue Nile
Painted Moon (from A Letter From St Paul) – The Silencers
I See Red (from A Letter From St Paul) – The Silencers
I Ought to Know (from A Letter From St Paul) – The Silencers
The Real McCoy (from A Blues for Buddha) – The Silencers
Sand and Stars (from A Blues for Buddha) – The Silencers
Candybar Express (from All You Need is…) – Love & Money
Strange Kind of Love (from Strange Kind of Love) – Love & Money
Jocelyn Square (from Strange Kind of Love) – Love & Money
Up Escalator (from Strange Kind of Love) – Love & Money
My Love Lives in a Dead House (from Dogs in the Traffic) – Love & Money
Whisky Dream (from Dogs in the Traffic) – Love & Money
This is the Last Time (from The Devil’s Debt) – Love & Money
The Desired (from The Devil’s Debt) – Love & Money
Christina’s World (from Swimmer) – The Big Dish
Swimmer (from Swimmer) – The Big Dish
Waiting for the Parade (from Creeping Up On Jesus) – The Big Dish
European Rain (from Creeping Up On Jesus) – The Big Dish
Faith Healer (from Creeping Up On Jesus) – The Big Dish
From the Mission Bell to the Deep Blue Sea (from Miss America single) – The Big Dish
Good Way (from Big Town single) – The Big Dish
He Stumbled on Some Magic (from Big Town single) – The Big Dish
Labour of Love (from Seduced and Abandoned) – Hue & Cry
Ordinary Angel (from Remote) – Hue & Cry
After a Fashion (single) – Mick Karn/Midge Ure
Honorare (from Answers to Nothing single) – Midge Ure
I Don’t Want a Lover (from Southside) – TEXAS
Prayer For You (from Southside) – TEXAS
Put Your Arms Around Me (single version) – TEXAS
Inner Smile (from Greatest Hits) – TEXAS
Better Days (from Taking on the World) – GUN
Money (from Taking on the World) – GUN
When You Love Somebody (from Taking on the Word expanded edition) – GUN
Taking on the World (from Taking on the World) – GUN
Steal Your Fire (from Gallus) – GUN
Something Worthwhile (from Swagger) – GUN
Crazy You (from 0141 632 6326) – GUN
Going Down (from 0141 632 6326) – GUN
No Substitute (from Break the Silence) – GUN
Running Out of Time (from Break the Silence) – GUN
Frantic (from Frantic) – GUN
Tragic Heroes (from Favourite Pleasures) – GUN
Raintown (from Raintown) – Deacon Blue
Loaded (from Raintown) – Deacon Blue
Love’s Great Fears (from Raintown) – Deacon Blue
Real Gone Kid (from When the World Knows Your Name) – Deacon Blue
Circus Lights (from When the World Knows Your Name) – Deacon Blue
Peace and Jobs and Freedom (from Whatever You Say, Say Nothing) – Deacon Blue
Hang Your Head (from Whatever You Say, Say Nothing) – Deacon Blue
Fall So Freely Down (from Whatever You Say, Say Nothing) – Deacon Blue
I Am Born (from Homesick) – Deacon Blue
The Rest (from The Hipsters) – Deacon Blue
The Outsiders (from The Hipsters) – Deacon Blue
It Will End in Tears (from The Hipsters) – Deacon Blue
Stars (from The Hipsters) – Deacon Blue
A New House (from A New House) – Deacon Blue
I Remember Every Single Kiss (from A New House) – Deacon Blue
Nothing Ever Happens (from Waking Hours) – Del Amitri
Empty (from Waking Hours) – Del Amitri
When I Want You (from Waking Hours) – Del Amitri
Stone Cold Sober (from Waking Hours) – Del Amitri
Kiss This Thing Goodbye (from Waking Hours) – Del Amitri
When You Were Young (from Change Everything) – Del Amitri
The Ones That You Love Lead You Nowhere (from Change Everything) – Del Amitri
Always the Last to Know (from Change Everything) – Del Amitri
Behind the Fool (from Change Everything) – Del Amitri
Tell Her This (from Twisted) – Del Amitri
Crashing Down (from Twisted) – Del Amitri
It’s Never to Late to be Alone (from Twisted) – Del Amitri
Driving With the Brakes On (from Twisted) – Del Amitri
Not Where Its At (from Some Other Sucker’s Parade) – Del Amitri
Cash and Prizes (from Can You Do Me Good?) – Del Amitri
One More Last Hurrah (from Can You Do Me Good?) – Del Amitri
Close Your Eyes and Think of England (from Fatal Mistakes) – Del Amitri
Party Fears Two (from Sulk) – The Associates
Reach the Top (from The Glamour Chase) – The Associates
Heart of Glass (from The Glamour Chase) – The Associates
Fire to Ice (from Wild and Lonely) – The Associates
Fever (from Wild and Lonely) – The Associates
Walking on Broken Glass (from DIVA) – Annie Lennox
Stay By Me (from DIVA) – Annie Lennox
The Gift (from DIVA) – Annie Lennox w/The Blue Nile
Train in Vain (from Medusa) – Annie Lennox
Ghosts in My Machine (from Songs of Mass Destruction) – Annie Lennox
Sing (from Songs of Mass Destruction) – Annie Lennox w/various female artists
Pale Red (from Jerry Burns) – Jerry Burns
Fall for Lovers (from Jerry Burns) – Jerry Burns
Safe in the Rain (from Jerry Burns) – Jerry Burns
Fallen (from Morning Dove White) – One Dove
White Love (single version) – One Dove
Breakdown (from Morning Dove White) – One Dove
Suddenly I See (from Eye to the Telescope) – KT Tunstall
Hold On (from Drastic Fantastic) – KT Tunstall
Crescent Moon (from Invisible Empire/Crescent Moon) – KT Tunstall
It Took Me So Long to Get Here, But Here I Am (from KIN) – KT Tunstall
Tether (from The Bones of What You Believe) – Chvrches
Under the Tide (from The Bones of What You Believe) – Chvrches
By the Throat (from The Bones of What You Believe) – Chvrches
Lies (Tourist Mix)(from The Bones of What You Believe expanded edition) – Chvrches
Never Ending Circles (from Every Open Eye) – Chvrches
Bury It (from Every Open Eye) – Chvrches
Bow Down (from Every Open Eye expanded edition) – Chvrches
Get Out (from Love is Dead) – Chvrches
Deliverance (from Love is Dead) – Chvrches
My Enemy (from Love is Dead) – Chvrches
Heaven/Hell (from Love is Dead) – Chvrches
Find My Love (from First of a Million Kisses) – Fairground Attraction
Goodnight Girl (from High on the Happy Side) – Wet Wet Wet
Lip Service (from High on the Happy Side) – Wet Wet Wet
Chance (from The Crossing) – Big Country
King of Emotion (from Peace in our Time) – Big Country
You Held the World in Your Arms (from The Remote Part) – Idlewild
Jenny Don’t Be Hasty (from These Streets) – Paolo Nutini
New Shoes (from These Streets) – Paolo Nutini
Last Request (from These Streets) – Paolo Nutini
Photo credits: mostly discogs, some retouched by KH
Hello Kitty from Facebook official Kitty page.