2009 was a great year for songs I think. Or maybe it's me who was more receptive to songs since the last decade I was quite obsessed by unmelodic music (sludgy doom mostly). And blogs helped me a lot to discover bands I surely had missed without them. I would like to write my gratitude to Bolachas where everyone can go fishing (or hunting) what's palatable for him/her. And then buy the record if he/she has the money (not always the case for me, but I'll try to improve this point next year, although in this country it's becoming quite difficult) or if they think it is worth spending the "nerf de la guerre" (war nerve, a French expression saying that money is the nerve of the war) on it. My selection was not difficult to do since these songs were the only important aural friends this year. They shared my days (and most often my evenings) during this or that period of 2009 (some I listened to quite obsessively during days and days such as "Witching Stones" by Black Heart Procession, "That Close" by Madness or "Parisiennes" by Soan). I omitted "Coward" by Vic Chesnutt since it seems difficult to put this song in any compilation. It's too rough, too intense as experience to stand next to lighter songs. For this reason, I hesitated to include "Party Lines" by Simon Finn, but there is something ironic in Simon Finn's voice that makes it easier to hear. I closed with JFG's "Sleep". Don't try to find it anywhere, it's a demo but I did not resist to put it on this compilation since I had its melody in my head often this year. This is my own selection and not rough mix one (he'll be more contributing in 2010, I promise) and maybe he'll offer you his own later on who knows. The choice I did for the streaming song is for him, since it is the wonderfull Beach Boys and Kinksy "Friends Since 1989" from Boat. And I'm friend with rough mix since...1969 ! Yes, we were two unhappy kids joined by our growing passion for music. This is my tribute to this 40th year of friendship. Enjoy all this and more here.
For the sleeve (sorry, I mispelled Tweak Bird but it's too long to change it now) I chose a picture by Helen Levitt, a great photographer who died this year at 95 on March the 29th. There is something of the quality one can find in the best rock music in her work. Life's palpitation, the energy of those who possess not much more than their life, the smiles that shed a light in the grey of uncertain destinies. For ending the year, this picture below which, in the year of the Obama's election, is still semantically stronger that it was when published.
Exactly one week ago, on the Xmas night, Vic Chesnutt fell in an eternal chemical sleep. This same night, mine was also chemical, but not eternal. On the eve of this evening, considered by many as an occasion for collective joy (and nothing guilty in that), all I can do is write about him some words and put a fake 7" (the Death 7", pronounce "heaven") with 2 of the most moving songs, not only in his last LP (At The Cut that everyone of you should buy) but in the (dying) year. In these 2 songs, he talked about his view on death ("Coward" can be taken today as a statement on his fear of dying, and the fact that this gives the courage to suicide, if there is any suicide in his act, I don't know actually), and few have described this intimacy with such a direct and honest approach. There are litterature references in these songs. On "Coward", he cites them (Franck Norris, Joseph Roth). On "Flirted With You All My Life", I can't help thinking about what Thomas Bernhard was saying about his own death in the last years of his life. He had written it on the first page of his book "Old Masters" ("Je sens la mort qui me tient continuellement dans ses griffes. Quoi que je fasse, elle est partout"). Musically, they are seminal gems. "Coward" could have been on The Narcotic Story (Oxbow) and Eugene Robinson seems a black gigantic brother of Vic Chesnutt. I dream of what the pair would have done, on stage or even in the real life. But this will remain a dream, one of the rare one in a nightmarish existence for so many. Give a tear here.
Coward. "The courage of the coward - greater than all others" (from franck Norris - McTeague) A scaredy cat'll scratch ya if you back him in a corner. I am a Coward. "Courage born of despair and impotence" (from Joseph Roth - Radetzky March). Submissive dogs can lash out in fear and be very, very dangerous. I am a Coward.
Flirted With You All My Life. I am a man. I am self aware and everywhere I go, you're always right there with me. I flirted with you all my life. Even kissed you once or twice and to this day I swear it was nice but clearly I was not ready. When you touched a friend of mine I thought I would lose my mind. But I found out with time that really, I was not ready. O' Death... I'm not ready. O' Death, you hector me and decimate those dear to me. Even tease me with your sweet relief. You are cruel and you are constant. When my mom was cancer sick, she fought but then succumbed to it. But you made her beg for it "Lord Jesus, please I'm ready". O' Death... Clearly I'm not ready.
Not a good Soft Boys single I admit. Maybe the worst. But it's the second one and I don't want to omit one because I don't like it. I don't know why Robyn Hitchcock thought this was a good idea to put this dual track 7" as an ambassador of the band when one knows the amount of fantastic songs he had stored and would release the next months. Even the sleeve was not appropriate to the band with its simili-new wavish imagery. The lyrics were very weak too and I don't find it necessary to publish them below. In brief, a deceiving second shot and I was not far to consider that this band would not reach the same peak than its first single. Retrospectively, it's quite funny to think of it since the number of great songs Robyn Hitchcock, with and without the Soft Boys, would compose and release, is impressive. Before that, for curiosity, give a try here.
Usually, I hate Christmas LPs. They're most of the time boring to death. But once again Melanie makes the difference with an album full of spirituality, bringing back both the deep childish joy inspired by this secular religious and pagan ritual and also a sort of intimate feeling of fate, irrigated by a view of life as a road of sadness on which some sparks of happiness can be collected. She recorded it during the middle part of the 90's (between 1995 and 1997), a very creative time for her but unfortunately the worst period in terms of popularity since she had most of the time to release her records on CD-R sold during concerts. Things would go better in 2002 with her masterpiece ie. Crazy Love LP but that's another story. If everything is not my cuppa tea on this Antlers, the whole can be listened to with great pleasure and emotion too. Some songs are real gems and should be known by everyone who appreciate this great person, composer and singer. Enjoy it here and happy Xmas to you and the youth around you.
I've included 3 songs in the streaming down there: "Virgin Mary/God rest ye merry gentlemen", "Good king Wenceslaus (alt)" and of course, only for today "We wish you a merry Christmas".
When I think of Christmas, the picture on Lurch of Steel Pole Bath Tub is what comes to my mind. Ugly face of fake smile with hypocrisy and familial nonsense dressed in oecumenical love. Gives me nausea and wanting to throw up. Alone with my beer, I can post this fantastic (but really fantastic) EP from this band, their best for me (but I need to hear again all of them to be sure). Their second one, very near the Drive By Jehu style (but I think the first DLJ album was released later). We'll have many more SPBT on this blog, even if visitors don't come here for this kind of music. I think it's not logical to love some 70's acts and not find that bands such as SPBT are the proud bastards of the best music of the seventies, and not these awful retro bands trying to mimic the past and produce a stupid nostalgic bullshit. This is in this EP that you can find a cover of Black Sabbath's Paranoid (not a bad one I can say), but more than that, there's 2 masterpieces, "Lime- Away" and "Hey You", that anyone who say knowing rock music should know before dying (and for some of us, it will be in the next few days, don't forget it). Last, in this EP, there was a comics I included in the rar file. Enjoy the whole of it here. And more SPBT to come.
Writing some album reviews for the special Xroads issue (a French music mag) on the best records of the eighties (from 1979 to 1987), and in particular on Metal Box from PIL, I take the measure of the influence of this band on the (good) music of the nineties, more specifically God, Scorn, Terminal Cheesecake and so on. Based on Can meets dub (the music) meets Kevin Coyne meets Nico (the voice), this post Pistols project of John Lydon was a winner and a rebirth. Here is the 3rd single with a non album track ("Another") that was only released on a special CD issue of the next album, Flowers of Romance. It's a way to pay hommage to this short-lived version of PIL, 3 guys with more ideas to sell than most of their contempories and who contributed to pave the way to music of the next decade (after the awful New Wave years were over). What a shame Lydon became such a boring bloke since then. Enjoy this 7" here. The lyrics of "Memories" are reproduced down there and it's not impossible it concerns his old pals from the Pistols.
Memories. You make me feel ashamed At acting attitudes Remember ridicule It should be clear by now clear by now Your words are useless Full of excuses False confidence Someone has used you well Used you well I could be wrong It could be hate As far as I can see Clinging desperately Imagining pretending No personality Dragging on and on and on and on And on and on and on and on I think you're slightly late Slightly late This person's had enough of useless memories Always remember Twisted amenities Could be wrong This person's had enough Of useless memories Always remember Twisted amenities Out of order Out of order It could be worse You're losing all the time I could be wrong Could be worse You're losing all the time I let you stay too long I could be wrong Could be wrong Whatever pass Could never last All in your mind Where it all began You're doing wrong It's not the movies And you're old
Christmas time is a good time for doom don't you think? Apparently not since my doom posts are not much popular looking at the dl rate but it doesn't matter. This year 2009 has been a fantastic one for doom and more particularly the one I appreciate the most ie. sludge. Here again a new band (even if members were in other bands previously) called Beneath Oblivion and this is, I think, their first EP, released one year ago but it's written 2009 everywhere, so maybe there was some delay before a real release. It's the darkest version of doom you have here but not like Stumm or Moss, since the instruments are distinct and the musical world still belongs to trad. rock in a sense (but not so much, it's not trad. Sabbath doom as more and more do now, a quite boring tendancy I find). From Cincinnatti, this band brings his own personal universe to a style that might seem to have all represented. But no, there's still place for new ones and it's a good news for all doomsters. The instrumental bridges of these two tracks should rejoice 70's lovers since they could have been issued at the times. With only 2 tracks, this EP could be considered as a single, but each is more than 8 min long so we'll say it's EP. Suffer it here.
Who could have imagined in 1972, when Roy Wood was the leader of ELO after being the leader of the Move, when all he touched turned gold and finished at the top of the charts, that 4 years later, his colleague Jeff Lynne would reach superstardom with ELO and that he would see his new album Main Street refused by his label, beginning a never ending fall in oblivion. Not that Roy Wood was as inspired than he had been before but listening to this rejected album, only released in 2000, it's difficult to understand why this was considered so impossible to publish it. Actually, Roy Wood is still backed by most of his Wizzard orchestra and this is not far from what the band proposed on the B-sides of the numerous hit singles they released between 1972 and 1973. There is something quite outdated in the way Roy Wood arranged his songs, something that recalls the music played on cruise ships and this is not what is the most interesting on this album. The influence on this album is primary the Brian Wilson's one and sometimes it sounds as the Beach Boys with John Bonham on drums and a whole brass in the background (and on "The Fire In His Guitar" as the ghost of Jimi Hendrix). Actually, I don't know why I have such a great affection for Roy Wood but this is the case. And even if I think anybody should begin with Boulders or Wizzard' Brew, this is a fine way to complete the exploration. Have a try here for this uncommon artist.
No lyrics to provide, just a nice pic of Roy Wood with Wizzard at the peak of their glory
Among the amount of new French male and female singers that are thrown on our poor heads, Soan is the only one that for me stands as a true great artist. Aged 28, winner of the 2009 French version of the TV show "Pop Idol", he is the spiritual son of Jacques Brel and this time it's not a pale copy of the original but a real talent. He created quite a scandal in talking about everything without the usual bullshit obsequiosity while the serious music amateurs were ironic about those that believed in him. Now that the first LP is out, everyone can judge by himself. Personally, I think it's a success although the 2 English sung songs are too much Cobainesque for me. But Soan belongs to this family of singers putting their guts in their songs such as Brel of course but also Léo Ferré, Alain Kan, Alex Harvey or Steve Austin. Some cite some underground French references such as les Têtes Raides (he's a friend of the singer) or Mano Solo but honestly I really think he's many Eiffel towers above them with a poetry in his lyrics that I've not heard in French texts since quite a long time (except in Fauque's lyrics for Bashung or in some Christophe lyrics). This fake 7" (the real one has "Next Time" on A-side) consists in 2 of my fave songs on the LP and is an attempt to help visitors not from France (50% of the total visitors) to discover this artist. Enjoy the songs here or in the streaming below. I created the sleeves with a part of the CD sheets.
Parisiennes. On se lève d'un silence et déjà, j'y reviens, Qu'elle est belle ton absence à ne me laisser rien, C'est demain quand tu rêves et les mots défendus, Si le vin te relève, j'ai bu. On se lève d'un silence et déjà, j'y reviens. Serait-ce ton absence qui pleure sur mes mains ? C'est le bruit d'une étincelle et le ciel ne sait pas, Si le vin te rappelle, je bois. Mille et une pensées, j'ai pas reconnu la mienne De mes amours de hyène, je t'ai mordu les pieds. Je t'aime, comme on aime dans les chansons, Du fin fond des nuits Parisiennes. On se lève d'un silence à l'écriture bancale. En plus, j'y vois que dalle, il pleut sur mon cahier. Les autres me bousculent ou c'est moi, je sais plus. Je m'en vais, mes mains brûlent, les rues. Si le "po" de poème, c'est la peau sur tes z' os, Fais de moi qui tu aimes et je me ferai beau. Mais les voix du silence me crient : "Elle partira", Les reines se balancent, des rats. Mille et une pensées, j'ai pas reconnu la mienne De mes amours de hyène, je t'ai mordu les pieds. Je t'aime, comme on aime dans les chansons, Du fin fond des nuits Parisiennes. Mes yeux c'est des oreilles en bois, j'en crois pas mes z' orteils. Assis dans un commissariat je m' souviens pas pourquoi je n'ai pas eu sommeil! Mille et une pensées, j'ai pas reconnu la mienne De mes amours de hyène, je t'ai mordu les pieds. Je t'aime, comme on aime dans les chansons, Du fin fond des nuits Parisiennes.
Emily. J'aimerais tenir dans mes mains ce maudit Saint Graal Qui se cache, on ne sait "z'"où : Il se rit bien de nos promesses Je ne serais pas mécontent que se pendent à mon cou Quelques félicitations, un peu de gloire et bonne presse Je n'ai rien contre la fortune et si je veux bien rester droit J'aime autant dormir sous la lune uniquement quand c'est un choix J'aimerais voir de nos yeux un gosse de moi sourire Que ce p'tit con m'appelle papa, le voir grandir et vivre vieux... Et si je n'ai rien de tout ça, peu importe J'irai chanter devant ta porte, Emily Et si on ne m'ouvre pas, que le Diable m'emporte Peu m'importe les saveurs du paradis! J'aimerais découvrir le monde avant que d'en crever Quitte à saigner de trop, de pas voir si la terre est ronde Mourir un an, peut-être deux, me reposer un peu Puis revenir en conquérant tant que mes dents tiennent ces lieux Et même dans des oripeaux, des adipes troués, Martyrisés par manque de pot, une fois le temps d'abandonner Moi qui voulais tous les ans virer les murs à tomber Moi qui n'aurais su réussir, j'ensorcelle ton escalier Et si je n'ai rien fait de moi, peu importe Je chante devant ta porte, Emily Et si l'on ne m'ouvre pas, que le Diable m'emporte Peu m'importe les saveurs du paradis! Si je n'ai rien fait de moi, peu importe Je chante devant ta porte, Emily Et si l'on ne m'ouvre pas, que le Diable m'emporte Peu m'importe les saveurs du paradis!
Recorded and released under the protection of Overground Records and in particular of Steve Albini (producing 4 tracks among the 13), Punk Life precedes Apollo by one year but the 2 albums are quite different, Apollo being more a solo Mark Perry album than an Alternative TV one whilst Punk Life gathers several persons in a more democratic way it seems. The album covers almost every style Mark Perry approached in his career, from trad. punk such as the songs recorded by Steve Albini to pop or even experimental (the tribute to Throbbing Gristle). Heterogenous as an ATV album has never been, it is finally a good one that is always exciting to listen to. There are some reprises of ancient ATV songs such as "I Had Love In My Hands" or "You Never Know" in very different versions but nothing here that sounds as a nostalgic shitty trip in punk's past. More an endpoint to the whole thing. Unfortunately, Mark Perry will have to deal later with punk again since he will be invited to play primary for his old punk hits and not for his late work. But it's another story that maybe we'll see here. But beforehand, enjoy Punk Life there.
And in streaming below, "Purpose In My Life", a great song in which we can all find ourselves concerned I bet.
Over the last 20 years, pop has more often bored me to death than excited me. But this year some bands have changed my views, and among them Boat is my fave. They are from Seattle and would merit the success of Nirvana with their Kinks-derived pop full of gorgeous melodies and with a delicious simplicity. I encourage everyone interested in pop to listen to their wonderfull Setting the Paces album. Of course, you will say that its sometimes not far from plagiarism of the Kinks but although this exasperates me in the case of Animal Collective or Grizzly Bear (for them, its a Beach Boys plagiarism), dissimulating their overindulgent and indigent melodies under useless complexity, the 4 boys of Boat take the risk to be judged on the sole merit of their simple songs. And its impressive. Here I created a fake 3-song 7" with "Lately" on A-side, not because its my fave but because this is the only one they posted on their myspace, a sign that it is their choice for a possible single. However its an instant winner and it would be actually a good idea to release it as single main track. On the B-side, I've added 2 of the songs I like the most, two very Kinksy ones (but I listen to Village Green Preservation Society very closely these times, for a reason linked to this blog, so its not a surprise). I specially love the last one (of the single and of the album), "You're Muscular". I encourage everybody to have the curiosity to dl this fake 7" with a cover I created from drawings issued from their myspace. Hope Boat will receive the reward of their talent. If you want a taste of it, try it here or listen to the 3 tracks below.
Lately. I was eating nachos, sitting with my mother, talking about nothing, talking about nothing, talking about growing up in NJ, a state without a hero. Who could be our hero? Drive into the city! The subject of the day is how can we repay this debt of all the money, money we aren’t making. Lately, lately, lately, lately I’ve been on my back. Move up to Seattle, not up to Alaska… my teeth won’t ever chatter, it doesn’t really matter. The subject of the day is how can we repay this debt of all the money, money we aren’t making. I was there, I know (x4). Well, what do you know, where did you go, and what were you doing? When you got home, you smiled real big, tell me what were you feeling? Send in the troops, everyone hears you, but nobody’s listening! Lately, lately, lately, lately I’ve been on my back!
Too long without doom down there. Life's needs it. And even if you don't, you rare visitors, this blog must have the music I listen to much of my leisure time (not much) on it. Today is another superb sludgy doom band called Arms of Ra, an evocation of Egyptian rites, and actually the doom here is quite luminous, celestial I would say, but a blue more than a dark sky. And the great news is that they are French. Long is gone the time when French music was only a pale copy of Anglosaxons bands. With Eibon or Arms of Ra (and many more), France is as much the city of Rock (to paraphrase Mark Perry on "Viva La Rock n' Roll") than any other country. And the most fascinating is again that in this genre that may seem so narrow and unidimensional to amateurs of prog, trad rock, metal or blues rock, all these bands have their own singularity (I promised not to use anymore the word idiosyncrasy. You can cite several bands, from Neurosis to Omega Massif about them but as soon as their first EP, they sound like Arms of Ra. Hats off. This EP (that can be downloaded for free on their myspace) is a 25 min 3-tracks record (my fave is "Taxidermie" that you can listen to below but the first part of "The Colour of My Life" is prime meat) and should feature in any collection of a real sludge-doomster, but more largely, of anyone who likes powerfull music since for me this is the only style that maintains the intensity and the excitation of heavy music. Enjoy this great piece of music here and buy anything you can from them anytime they'll give us the opportunity (and in particular in buying this EP on their myspace here).
Here below a fine picture of the band's vocalist in september 2008 at La Miroiterie by Amandine Duarte
When I bought this single of the Kinks, not at the time of its release, cos I was too young, but 2 or 3 years later, my preference was for the B-side, "Berkeley Mews" (in France, since in USA it was "Mindless Child of Motherhood", both tracks featuring in this post). "Berkeley Mews" and not "Berkeley Men" as written on the UK sleeve, had been recorded 2 years prior to "Lola", in the wake of the Village Green Preservation Society sessions (one of the future posts, in its original version), but was more 70's than 60's and finally was not out of place as a B-side of "Lola", a song announcing the new Kinks sound, not the one than most Kinks addicts like but still exceptionally palatable. "Lola", everybody knows that by now, is about a wo-man that Ray says to have met in a discotheque and the rest of the song is not without reference to the Billy Wilder's masterpiece Some Like It Hot, a way for Ray Davies to be "in" whilst staying in his fantasy world of Hollywood cinema. It is sometimes said (i got no proof but it's an interesting hypothesis) that this transvestite was Candy Darling, the gorgeous creature that was in the Andy Warhol circle and that he may have actually met (but not slept with). Candy is the one that Lou Seed will sing about 2 years later in "Take a Walk on Wild Side", the one also on the sleeve of the "Sheila Takes a Bow" Smiths single, and the one on the album sleeve of Antony & the Johnsons (on her deathbed, sometimes before dying from leukemia at 29). From the funny side of the Ray approach to the morbid side of her tragic end, the destiny of a comet, doom at its best. But back to "Berkeley Mews". It is often said that "Days" is one of the rare true love songs of Ray Davies, but listening to "Berkeley Mews" lyrics, it seems that his sentimental difficulties inspired him some bitter sad commentaries on his past love at this period of his life. The mellotron is fantastically well used here (don't forget not many bands were using it in 1968). Last, "Mindless Child of Motherhood", the US single B-side, also recorded years before, is a bitter sad love song too, by Dave Davies this time, and although it is a nice one, the text is quite ordinary compared to the Ray one. Historically, this single probably precluded the Kinks to disappear since they had faced failure after failure for the 3 previous years. Enjoy this salvation 3 tracks single here. The above sleeve is the French one (mine) and the below one the UK one (did not find the US one).
Lola. Met her in a club down in old Soho Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry-cola [LP version: Coca-Cola] See-oh-el-aye cola She walked up to me and she asked me to dance I asked her her name and in a dark brown voice she said Lola El-oh-el-aye Lola la-la-la-la Lola Well I'm not the world's most physical guy But when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine Oh my Lola la-la-la-la Lola Well I'm not dumb but I can't understand Why she walked like a woman and talked like a man Oh my Lola la-la-la-la Lola la-la-la-la Lola Well we drank champagne and danced all night Under electric candlelight She picked me up and sat me on her knee And said dear boy won't you come home with me Well I'm not the world's most passionate guy But when I looked in her eyes well I almost fell for my Lola La-la-la-la Lola la-la-la-la Lola Lola la-la-la-la Lola la-la-la-la Lola I pushed her away I walked to the door I fell to the floor I got down on my knees Then I looked at her and she at me Well that's the way that I want it to stay And I always want it to be that way for my Lola La-la-la-la Lola Girls will be boys and boys will be girls It's a mixed up muddled up shook up world except for Lola La-la-la-la Lola Well I left home just a week before And I'd never ever kissed a woman before But Lola smiled and took me by the hand And said dear boy I'm gonna make you a man Well I'm not the world's most masculine man But I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man And so is Lola La-la-la-la Lola la-la-la-la Lola Lola la-la-la-la Lola la-la-la-la Lola
Candy Darling by Andy Warhol
Candy Darling on her deathbed (1974) by Peter Hujar
Berkeley Mews. The leaves of brown came falling through the view, In Berkeley Mews, I first met you, I staggered through your chilly dining room, In Berkeley Mews, I first met you. Your kitchen sink was cluttered up, So I put the shutter up forlornly I brewed another cuppa up And tried to sneak out early in the morning. I thought you had much better things to do, In Berkeley Mews, I first met you, Drowned my conversation with champagne, In Berkeley Mews, was not listening. I thought you were an intellect, But now that I reflect, you left me reeling. You made me drink a toast And when you finished I was looking at the ceiling. The floods of tears I've wept thinking of you, Remind me of that night in Berkeley Mews. You know that you left me broken hearted, In Berkeley Mews.
This song was released on a single in july 1978 (at least that's what's written in the Great Rock Discography of Martin Strong), that means 1 year after the deceiving Overnight Angels LP. It sure has been recorded with the same team, and in particular, the rather boring Roy Thomas Baker (Mr Queen) producer, who really salvaged the songs (some of them great) of this album. It could not be worse since in 1977 the sound was more garage than symphonic and Ian Hunter paid an heavy tribute to this mistake, having to wait for Mick Jones from the Clash 2 years later (ie., one after this single) to release a new album. On this later one, "England Rocks" had been changed again for "Cleveland Rocks" (apparently its working title), but this is the same song. It's interesting to compare the two, the England's one still belonging to the glam world whereas the Cleveland one is much more the feet in the Springsteen fields (but Ian Hunter will always be more exciting than the so-called boss). In the England one, the references to punk are clear (more ironic than enthusiastic) whereas they're none in the Cleveland one. This song has only been released on some Ian Hunter compilations and as a bonus track of the Overnight Angels CD reissue, so it fits perfectly with the aim of this blog. Sorry for the sleeve, which is ugly, but this was the original one it seems (cos I don't own this single and never saw it, in 1978, I had other preoccupations). Enjoy the 7" here.
England Rocks. Energy calling me, back where I came from It's such a crude attitude, it's back where it belongs All the little chicks with the crimson lips go England Rocks, England Rocks She's living in sin with a safety pin England Rocks, England Rocks (etc) Momma knows but she don't care, she got her worries too Seven kids and a phoney affair, and the rent is due All the little kids growing up on the skids Going England Rocks, England Rocks American dreams, moody James Deans Going England Rocks, England Rocks England Rocks, England Rocks I got some badges from World War II I wear 'em just like my Granddad do He was a villain and I am too Oh England Rocks, England Rocks So grab a place, find a space And yell and scream for more England Rocks, England Rocks England Rocks, England Rocks (to fade)
This is the first of several posts about 7" or EPs, released under the name of the Soft Boys or Robyn Hitchcock, and only reissued on various compilations or as bonus tracks of CD versions of albums. It appears that I discovered the Soft Boys with this first 3 songs 7" in the summer of 1977, and never stopped to buy their stuff uuntil they disbanded in 1979 so I can provide all the original covers. For the quality, the best is to take the CD versions of course and not rip my vinyls. I immediately loved the voice, melodies and musical style of this band, quite different from the usual punk one that was my fave in this particular year that was 1977, and mainly based on the musical heritage of Syd Barrett, the Byrds and Groundhogs. The cocktail was OK for me (even if I've honestly never liked much the Byrds). This first single is much more punch(k)y than the further ones, and what is striking is the incredible technical skill of the musicians, in a time that this was not the priority in rock (the other band playing with such an aptitude would be the Only Ones and I'll post soon their first single too). Furthermore, the texts were marked by surrealism and had nothing in common with the usual political antisocial or sentimental ones of that era (which is an anagram of ear). The sleeve reminded strongly of the first Supertramp album (or the second Flash one) and although I really find women chests the most wonderful landscape to admire, I don't feel these various attempts to put them on a front of a record were a good idea. Among the 3 songs, my fave is "The Face Of Death" that I put as the streaming one below, with a rather rude text for someone young as was at the time Robyn Hitchcock. Don't forget to buy his last solo LP, Goodnight Oslo, one of the best records of the year. Enjoy this first shot here.
The Face of Death. The face of death is my best friend He lurks behind my favourite vent And though we meet we never speak I've got a feeling he's unique He looks so crushed but he's alright He eat his food He sleeps at night His leather jacket's quite like mine I'm we two would get on fine But some someday I'll make him mine I'll wear your face I'll come to tea My place or yours And then you'll see It's like walking through a mirror He tried to hard It never came to anything They burn his name They threw him out Cause he was wrong And left him trapped inside this song
Barry Ryan has been for the last 35 years what some call a guilty pleasure, these bands or singers that you are a little ashamed to appreciate. But now, at my age, all this shitty considerations are out of my mind and I would even feel more guilty to appreciate Radiohead, Coldplay or Porcupine Tree than Barry Ryan (Kate Nash or Soan). I think Barry Ryan and his brother Paul composed great songs, and even if the style did not fit what the rock world considered respectable, I think that the 2 British brothers were challenging Brian Wilson, Lennon-McCartney or Brooker-Reid although they reached similar peaks only more sporadically. The first LP, released in 1968 under the Barry Ryan name (beforehand they released more variety songs under the name of Paul and Barry Ryan) entitled Barry Ryan sings Paul Ryan, is a masterpiece and has been reissued with the second one (weaker but still containing enough fantastic songs for being a must-have) by Rev Ola in 2005. You can find it on various logs but you should buy it since the sound is specially good. The rest of their discography is still lost in the vast amount of records not reissued in CD format by the music industry (you know, the kings of the crocodile tears). I got none of them but I gathered all the songs of the 4th one, called Red Man through various vinyl compilation, this allowing me to propose the whole album to who wants it. The 3rd one was called 3 and I did not succeed doing the same for it. Of course, I could try to buy it in vinyl and if I find it not too expensive that's maybe what I'll do. But now is the Red Man one. Not a great album as was the first one but not bullshit as some wrote here and then on sites such as on RateYourMusic. It's an uneven collection, much more influenced by Paul McCartney than in the "Eloïse" era (where Brian Wilson was the prime reference) and unfortunately, sounding sometimes as Gilbert O'Sullivan singing McCartney. But there are great songs too on it, such as the surrealistic (or more surely stupidistic) "Red Man", in the vein of "Eloïse" or "Kitsch", and the song I've based the image I chose for the album sleeve since the real sleeve was really ugly (see below) and doesn't do justice to this album.
Other fine songs are "It Is Written" (my fave from the album), "Moonshine Girl" and "Today", but the quiet ones have a special charm that you may find your taste. Barry Ryan would release 6 albums (the last in 1976), and I'll try to gather songs from the 3 other unreleased ones on this blog. I'll post also some unreleased B-side tracks from singles, among which there were marvellous but obscure songs. Enjoy the Red Man LP here (hoping that Polydor will one day reissue the whole catalogue).
Red Man. This time you've gone too far You drank French wine caviar You've been a red square. You think Tchaikowski is too deep But Michael jagger won't loose sleep So you just get back there. Red man sing your song Red man don't take long See that man there drinking tea Well he's no friend He's k.g.b. So get on the hot line. They think you're Rasputin too And they've mad plans recruiting you Deep down in the salt-mines. Red man sing your song Red man don't take long Balalaika play you're tune I'll sing my song Sputnick ii is floating round my head. Cossacks dancing on the moon It won't be long Pretty soon we'll be seeing red. All the lads in leningrad Think you've been bad But don't be sad You'd better lie low. Molotov and vodka too Won't see the situation through Call doctor Jivago
The Saints have been one of my fave bands since their first single ("I'm Stranded") at the end of 1976. It was a shame they disbanded even if the Ed Kuepper's Laughing Clowns were a hell of a band too. The last LP of their magnificent tryptic was Prehistoric Sounds, one of the 5 LP I would take with me on an island if I had to go there for the rest of my agony. In this wonderful album, a song should have been released as a single, and that song is "Every Day's A Holiday, Every Night's A Party", a sarcastic and desabused song on the way of life of rich youngsters it seems, and who seem to drink a lot (the reason I chose this interesting shot (don't know who took it) for the "did it myself" cover. If you listen closely, you can hear something of "Smell Like Teen Spirit" in it, the song that would throw Nirvana in the stardom circus 10 years later (or maybe it's a personal subjective impression, I'll never know). If I'm posting this fake single (nobody having released it in this format at the time), it's also to share the B-side, an unreleased track recorded during the Prehistoric Sounds sessions that did notmake its way in the album and which was released on CD more than 25 years later on 2 very complete Saints retrospective, quite hard (and expensive) to find today (and not with valid link on any blog presently). It's called "Looking For The Sun", and it's a rather unusual song for the Saints, quite dylanesque actually, but very good and that any Saints fan should know. Enjoy it (both songs) here.
Every Day's A Holiday, Every Night's A Party. Night time, neon sign, synthetic grin Fast cars, drag bars, ice in my gin Discotheques were all the rage, dancing til two Champagne and misery where are you? Let's have another drink Let's have another drink Loud music, crowds grooving, drunk at the door Life in the mirror cracked, sick on the floor Coffee addict, automatic pistols were drawn Be my suicidal heart-throb c'est de l'amour Let's have another drink Let's have another drink Everyday is a holiday and everynight it's party time 'Cause all the world is mine, all the world is mine Night time, neon sign, synthetic grin Fast cars, drag bars, ice in my gin Discotheques were all the rage, dancing til two Champagne and misery where are you? Let's have another drink Let's have another drink