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Friday, 28 April 2017

Punk/New Wave and Post-Punk: The Sound of 1979 #1

A little something for the weekend, a nice blast through some of the tunes that were the Soundtrack to my life when I was 16 years old!

A nice mix of twenty tracks that includes some Punk/New Wave Classics and a few Post-Punk numbers for good measure. Enjoy.

On The Playlist
Love Song - The Damned
The Damned were back in business, with a new label (Chiswick), a new single (that would be their first ever Top 20 record), a new member (Algy Ward on Bass) and one of the greatest albums of 1979 (Machine Gun Etiquette released in November 1979 #31 UK Charts).

Danger Signs - Penetration
The North East band's fourth single on Virgin and in 1979 they would also release their second album Coming Up For Air (UK Chart #36). Yet another single that failed to chart but nevertheless is an absolute cracking song.

The Eton Rifles - The Jam
The Eton Rifles became one of the most successful singles by The Jam as it reached #3 in the charts (in 1980 they would make it to #1 twice). Their fourth album in three years would follow soon after the release of the single with Setting Sons hitting #4 in the UK Album Chart.

New Way - The Wall
Debut single for The Wall on Small Wonder Records and what an absolute cracker it is as well. The band hail from Sunderland and formed in 1978. John Peel gave a lot of airplay to this one leading to sales of over 10,000 copies. Their second single for Small Wonder Records - Exchange - was produced by Steve Jones (ex-Pistols).

Jah War - Ruts
Jah War was the third single from the Ruts to be released on Virgin Records (their fourth overall) and it was actually the only single on the label by the band that didn't chart! The song was written in the aftermath of the Southall unrest and the over-use of force by the Metropolitan Police Service's Special Patrol Group in 1979 when they attacked Clarence Baker, a member of Misty In Roots, was severely beaten and injured by the SPG during a protest in Southall against a National Front march. The Ruts - who were partners of and had their debut single released by the People Unite cooperative - honoured him in "Jah War" which was released as a single and on their album The Crack the same year.

All The Boys Love Carrie - Another Pretty Face
I remember when this came out on the New Pleasures label but it kind of got lost among the great mix of music that was going about at the time. The band hailed from Edinburgh and Mike Scott would go on to greater fame and fortune with The Waterboys.

Language School - Tours
This was also released in May 1979 and came in a number of different colour picture sleeves. It was on their own Tours Rec. label. They only released one other single - Tourist Information (on Virgin) which I actually didn't like too much. Language School on the other hand was a single I loved the moment I heard it and to this day is still one of my favourite singles from that period of musical history.

Fairytale In The Supermarket - The Raincoats
Released on Rough Trade Records in April 1979 and yet another classic single Debut Single from that time. They toured with Swiss band Kleenex.
Interest in the band was later renewed when Kurt Cobain of Nirvana took an interest in them and wrote the liner notes for a reissued version of their Debut Album:
"I don't really know anything about The Raincoats except that they recorded some music that has affected me so much that, whenever I hear it I'm reminded of a particular time in my life when I was (shall we say) extremely unhappy, lonely, and bored. If it weren't for the luxury of putting that scratchy copy of The Raincoats' first record, I would have had very few moments of peace. I suppose I could have researched a bit of history about the band but I feel it's more important to delineated the way I feel and how they sound. When I listen to The Raincoats I feel as if I'm a stowaway in an attic, violating and in the dark. Rather than listening to them I feel like I'm listening in on them. We're together in the same old house and I have to be completely still or they will hear me spying from above and, if I get caught - everything will be ruined because it's their thing." - Cobain's liner notes for The Raincoats.

Into The Valley - Skids
Having impressed greatly in 1978 with a cracking Debut Charles EP and then Sweet Suburbia and the Wide Open EP (which included The Saints Are Coming), January 1979 kicked off with a massive single that reached #10 in the UK.

The Sound of The Suburbs - The Members
Virgin Records had a great stable of acts in 1978-79 (including Ruts, Skids, Magazine and The Motors to name but a few) and another cracking band on the label were The Members. Also released in January 1979, it reached #12 on the charts. 1979 would also see the release of their Debut Album At The Chelsea Nightclub (#45 UK Album Chart). The single was released as a Limited Edition on Clear Vinyl. It was a fine follow up to their one off single for Stiff Records in 1978 (Solitary Confinement). It is regarded by many as one of the classic songs of the whole Punk/New Wave scene.

Life In A Day - Simple Minds
Meanwhile on Zoom Records former Johnny and The Self Abusers members who had split into two bands (the other being The Cuban Heels) released their Debut Single in April 1979.
I really liked this one when it came out, actually got a free copy of it from a friend of my Dad who worked at a pressing plant. It did chart at #62 but they would actually go on to bigger and better success throughout the 1980s.

Nag Nag Nag - Cabaret Voltaire
Released on Rough Trade as was their Debut Extended Play EP (1978). I had seen them support Buzzcocks in 1978 and they didn't go down too well among the Lyceum crowd! Whilst never really a favourite band of mine I liked the strangeness of this particular single. As a group they had actually been around as early as 1973! They hailed from Sheffield.

The Glory of the World - Gloria Mundi
The song was actually released as a single in 1978 but I include it here as it was on their Second album The Word Is Out that was released in 1979 on RCA Records. They were probably one of the first Goth type bands I ever saw I think (though maybe it was Bauhaus as they supported Gloria Mundi at The Marquee in 1978! The less said about that show the better!).

Rock 'n' Roll High School - Ramones
Whilst the musical landscape might have been changing with more electronic sounds of synths and keyboards there was one band you could trust in that maintained that rock 'n' roll was to be played with drums, bass and guitar. Yep, the Ramones were still blasting it out as they had always done! 1979 would see their film debut and this single was put out in support of the movie and the Soundtrack.

Harmony In My Head - Buzzcocks
Must admit that I don't think I have ever stumbled across a Red Picture Sleeve for this one before as I had the Blue Sleeve. A real cracking single and a shame as it really should have been a bigger hit (it only made it to #32). One of Steve Diggle's finest tunes I think.

Transmission - Joy Division
Was a big hit on the Indie Chart reaching #4 and yet another great band out of Manchester. They would also release an absolutely stunning Debut Album - Uknown Pleasures - in June 1979 also on Factory Records. Version on the Playlist is from their appearance on BBC's Something Else progamme.

Culture Shock - Shake

Where's The Boy For Me? - The Revillos
Two bands to rise from the ashes of The Rezillos. First off Shake which featured guitarist Jo Callis and then The Revillos that featured Fay Fife and Eugene Reynolds. Culture Shock was released as a 10" EP on Sire Records and Where's The Boy For Me? was the first ever release on the Dindisc label.

20th Century Boy - Siouxsie and The Banshees
B-side of their second single The Staircase (Mystery) and a fantastic cover of the old T-Rex song originally released in 1973. The single was released in March 1979 and reached #24 on the UK Singles Chart.

World War/ Rockers - U.K. Subs
We end with a double header, the B-Sides to Stranglehold, their Debut Single for GEM Records in 1979. Charlie Harper is still in action and tomorrow will be strutting his stuff along with the U.K. Subs at the Scotland Calling Festival in Glasgow.



Thursday, 27 April 2017

Music Is The Answer #3: Troubled Times!

When life gets interrupted and dark and troublesome days seem to befall us (and none of us are immune to that I'm certain of), and as Cast sung so graphically about that we have Troubled Thoughts and really find it hard to find the words to even begin to explain the pain, the heartache, the deep sadness we feel inside, we go in search of things that will bring a moment of solace.

Where we go looking for that solace is of course quite different for each one of us. For me it is my faith in One greater than I, but sometimes even a voice from above seems silent (or so I think) but it's amazing to me to discover the voice calling in different ways through music.

That quote by Hans Christian Anderson, written an age ago seems to be so relevant to many of us (see picture below) and when words do indeed fail music speaks in ways we could barely imagine to be true.

I wish to dedicate this post today to my own family as we have our own Troubled Times (as Green Day sing about on their latest album) at present as we deal with a terminally ill Mother. And I also wish to dedicate it to any of you who are reading this today that are also going through a dark time.

Here's three songs (and I probably could have posted a whole lot more) that offer up a voice in the darkness offering some words of encouragement, solace and hope. They are all very different indeed: quiet, loud, soulful - and yet each conveying something I need to hear today and maybe something that you need to hear today.



Standing In The Breach
Written by Jackson Browne
And though the earth may tremble and our foundations crack
We will all assemble and we will build them back
And rush to save the lives remaining still within our reach
And try to put our world together standing in the breach

So many live in poverty while others live as kings
Though some may find peace
In the acceptance of all that living brings
I will never understand however they've prepared
How one life may be struck down and another life be spared

And though the earth may tremble and cast our works aside
And though our efforts resemble the fluctuating tide
We rise and fall with the trust and belief
That love redeems us each
And bend our backs and hearts together standing in the breach

You don't know why it's such a far cry
From the world this world could be
You don't know why but you still try
For the world you wish to see
You don't know how it will happen now
After all that's come undone
But you know the change the world needs now
Is there, in everyone

The unpaid debts of history
The open wounds of time
The laws of human nature always tugging from behind
I want to think that the earth can heal
And that people might still learn
How to meet this world's true challenges
And that the course we're on could turn

And though the earth may tremble and the oceans pitch and rise
We will all assemble and we will lift our eyes
To the tasks that we know lie before us
And the power our prayers beseech
And cast our souls into the heavens, standing in the breach

You don't know why it's such a far cry
From the world this world could be
You don't know why but you still try
For the world you wish to see
You don't know how it's going to happen now
After all that's come undone
And you know the world you're waiting for may not come
No it may not come
But you know the change the world needs now
Is there, in everyone


Hold On
Written by Bob Mould
Years of our lives
The time we invested
Wasted away in a cold sweat dream
Come home at night
All of our light was gone
The missing pieces never fit all along

Hold on, hold on, hold on to me
Hold on, hold on, hold on to me

Lovers of mine
Friends I abandoned
It's how I replay my darkest fears
Fragments of time
Shadows and memories
They can't be saved, I watch them floating out to sea

Hold on, hold on, hold on to me
Hold on, hold on, hold on to me

Hold on to all my regret
It's all gone, I did this myself
Holding on's not as easy as it seemed
When you held me

Hold on, hold on, hold on to me
Hold on, hold on, hold on to me



I'll Be Your Shelter (In Time Of Storm) - Luther Ingram
Written By Homer Banks, Carl Hampton, Ray Jackson, Raymond Jackson
In times when you're troubled
Seems more than you can afford
And you feel you need a friend
Someone to share the load

When your sky grows cloudy
I want you to know
You got a friend that's true

[Chorus:]
Just like a shelter
In the time of storm
I'll see you through
That's what I'll do

If your dreams are scattered
Just like the wind blown sand
And you feel, you feel like
You need a friend, I'll be there
Reach out your hands

And when the rain starts to fall
I'll be there, just to hold on to

[Chorus:]
Just like a shelter
In the time of storm
I'll see you through
That's what I'll do

(I will see you through)
(I will see you through)
(I will see you through)
(I will see you through)
(I will see you through)
(I will see you through)
(I will see you through)
(I will see you through)

I'll see you through your hangups
I'll see you through your fears
I'll see you through sad times
Honey, I'll dry all your tears

And when the tempest is raging
I want you to know
You got a friend that's true

(I will see you through)
(I will see you through)

Monday, 24 April 2017

The Photos - A Photographic History 1979-1983

I was thinking today about the band The Photos, maybe because I had seen somewhere that today is the anniversary of the release of their 1980 EP that featured Irene and Barbarellas.

As much for my own amusement I went and had a wee search around You Tube to see what they had on there and decided to post this little piece. I don't recall ever doing a post about them before (at least one that I can find here on the blog) so I guess it's long overdue.

It's not a full history but snapshots of the beginnings of the band through to their split in 1981 (and a brief mention regarding a reformation in 1983).

I have tried to supply as many links as possible to the music of The Photos and was successful in finding all the songs with regard to the Debut Album and the bonus album The Blackmail Tapes. As for the second album there are hardly any songs from it that have been uploaded so they singles section is a bit bereft of links as is the album.

Enjoy the music and read more down below about the band and their history.




 CBS
Produced by Colin Thurston
Released November 1979

The Photos EP - The Photos

 A-Side: 


B-Side:

Epic
Produced by Roger Bechirian
Released April 1980
UK Chart #56

 The Photos - The Photos
Epic
Produced by Roger Bechirian
Released June 1980
UK Chart #4




 On Release there was a Limited Edition Album Included:
The Blackmail Tapes


Friends / Je T'Aime 
July 1980
Single Withdrawn by Label

Released August 1980

Life In A Day / More Than A Friend
Released February 1981

Crystal Tips and Mighty Mice - The Photos
Epic
Produced by Tony Visconti
Withdrawn by the label but later released in 2008 by Cherry Red Records on CD
A1 My Life Story 2:35
A2 Life In A Day 2:56
A3 Luke Come Back 3:18
A4 Let's Pack Our Bags 3:44
A5 Kill That Girl 3:20
A6 The Final Scene 3:32
B1 We Fight 3:35

B2 Thinking Of His Girlfriend 4:12
B3 Wish You Well 3:19
B4 For Beauty's Sake 3:58
B5 Time Of My Life 4:32 
   
* It's Always The English (Unreleased) - was included on the Cherry Red CD Release in 2008.
There are not many songs at all on You Tube from the Second Album.
We'll Win / You Won't Get To Me
Released July 1981

 Wendy Wu left the band in 1981 to go solo (and wasn't very successful with none of her three singles charting), to be replaced by Che, and The Photos split up later that year.

There's Always Work / Work Phase
Rialto
Released April 1983

Wendy Wu was not part of the reformed band for this single and they went their own ways again soon after release but did have her join them for a one off show at The Marquee before they split for good!


****************

The story of The Photos actually begins in early 1977 when Paul Kencher (vocals), Steve Eagles (guitar), Sharpie (bass) and Clint Driftwood (drums) put together a Punk band called Satan's Rats. They hailed from Evesham, Worcestershire. Sharpie and Driftwood were soon replaced (Sharpie deciding that punk wasn't for him and Driftwood's Dad didn't want him playing with Punks) by Roy Wilkes (bass) and Olly Harrison (drums).

It was bassist Roy Wilkes who had brought along some songs "with more rebellion in them" - like Year of the Rats and You Make Me Sick. The band would be dumping some of the older covers they were doing in favour of their own songs and a few choice Punk covers (New Rose, Teenage Depression, Anarchy in the UK and Pogo Dancing).

The band managed to get a deal with DJM Records and in 1977 released their Debut Single - In My Love For You backed by Facade. I'm not totally sure that DJM Records really knew what they were doing with the band as the label was more geared toward Pop music with the likes of Elton John, Dennis Waterman and Telly Savalas having been on their books.

Advertising for the Single was interesting and was inspired by a conversation at The Roxy when some enthusiastic crowd members were heckling the band and shouting "We want the Pistols". Paul's response was quality: "Never mind the Pistols, we're Satan's Rats!"
Two more singles would follow in 1978 - Year of the Rats (backed with Louise in January) and You Make Me Sick (also backed with Louise in March). Things in the band had soured though and the first out the door was Roy Wilkes who was replaced with Dave Sparrow. Lead vocalist Paul had brought some new songs to the table but was being given the cold shoulder by other members in the band. Some of those very same songs would turn up later under a very different guise.

After a health issue and the continued hostility toward him Paul left the band as he felt that there were others in control of the band that were not aiding the success of the group. The record label had already shown from the start that they were cheapskates getting Rikki Sylvan (frontman of Rikki and The Last Days Of Earth - whom also happened to be signed to DJM) to produce as he said he'd do it for nothing and the management of the band were not exactly playing their part either.

You can read Vocalist Paul Rencher's side of the story here!

The Photos Are Developed!
Now, with no lead vocalist and a desire to move forward the remaining members Steve Eagles, Dave Sparrow, and Olly Harrison decided to hunt for a female lead vocalist. The first name on the list was Jayne Casey of Big in Japan after she had left the group but she informed them that she had a new band already called Pink Military. Then they stumbled upon Wendy at Barbarellas in Birmingham (she also came from Worcester). "I remember they phoned me up and asked if I could sing. I of course said yes, even though I had no idea if I could" said Wendy

"She was immediately auditioned and asked to join the band" Steve Eagles said. "She had an unusual voice that at times sounded a little like Patti Smith and at others like those girl bands from the 60s."

The band's management company at the time, Magic Management, were not a great help - "Magically they made money disappear", said Wendy.

Throughout June and July 1979 the band were playing in all the musical hotspots in London - The Marquee, The Music Machine, Dingwalls, The Moonlight Club, The Hope and Anchor and The Nashville.

Cherry Red were interested in signing the band but it was CBS who got them to sign on the dotted line. Their first single I'm So Attractive would be released on that label but they would switch to the sister label Epic Records for the next releases.

They had done shows supporting The Cure, Squeeze, The Undertones, The Police and even had U2 in their early days supporting them on headline shows.

The Debut Album was made with Roger Bechirian because "he made 'You've Got My Number' by The Undertones, a fantastic record" (Steve Eagles). But whilst they were out on a short tour the album was mixed and when they heard it the band were a bit disappointed, "it all sounded a bit pop to us. It was great in a way, but it didn't sound like we did on stage" (Steve Eagles)

Another issue that came to light and not authorized by the band was that "someone in the marketing department of the label decided to give away free cameras to a few selected record shops around the country. These would undoubtedly have been chart return shops. We as a band were not told that this was taking place. If we had known, we would never have allowed it. At this time the industry was very nervous if any accusations of chart-fixing" (Steve Eagles). But despite the fact that the band had made what they thought was a good album, released it with a Limited Edition demos album The Blackmail Tapes, and had worked their butt off on stages all over the land some people assumed that they had cheated their way to #4 on the UK Album Chart.

Their record label never really got behind them at all after this debacle and released future singles with little fanfare and even scrapped the release of their second album Crystal Tips and Mighty Mice (not sure how many were made but the only Vinyl copies of the album that exist were for "Promotional Purposes"). It would not be released until 2008, 27 years later than planned. It was on CD and was released by the label who had first shown interest in them - Cherry Red. The package also contained some singles A's and B's and a previously unreleased track.

The Debut album has been reissued a couple of times, firstly in 1998 by Epic on CD in their Rewind Series (The Blackmail Tapes were added as a bonus) and also Cherry Red in 2007, who not only added The Blackmail Tapes  but both sides of the first single and the B-Side Je T'Aime

Wendy Wu left the band in 1981 and was replaced with someone called Che (have to admit that I cannot even recall what she looked or sounded like!) and the band broke up later the same year.

They did reform in 1983 releasing one more single but without Wendy Wu. Time has not made the song sound any better! I still think it sounds absolutely wretched bad synth-pop! 

Where are they all now?

Wendy Wu is apparently a social worker.
Dave Sparrow works in the building industry.
Olly Harrison is a filmmaker, artist and animator.
Steve Eagles is currently a member of Blurt - a jazz-psycho-funk-poetic-punk band!





Saturday, 22 April 2017

Punk/New Wave and Post-Punk: The Sound of 1978 #3


We venture for the third time into the great wide open of 1978 to find twenty tunes that for us summed up The Sound of 1978!



On The Playlist
If The Kids Are United - Sham 69
First Top Ten single for Sham 69 released in July 1978 (peaked at #9) on Polydor and the follow up to Angels With Dirty Faces. Die Toten Hosen would release it as a single in 1991 featuring the vocals of Jimmy Pursey. Rancid have also covered the song along with many other bands down through the years.

Dot Dash - Wire
Third single on Harvest from the Wire lads and if their second single I Am The Fly was brilliant then this one must be truly magnificent!

Judy Says (Knock You In The Head) - The Vibrators
Released in June 1978 and wallowing in the basement of the charts at #70 the sixth single from The Vibrators. Their previous single Automatic Lover made it to #35 on the UK Singles Chart.

Downtown - The Cuban Heels
Whilst half of Johnny & The Self Abusers had gone on to form Simple Minds the other half formed The Cuban Heels and this was their debut single on Housewives Choice (great name for a label!).

Rock Lobster/52 Girls - The B-52's
Debut single (both sides) from the wild and whacky Athens outfit on DB Recs released in April 1978. It would get an official UK release in July 1979 on DB Recs and then re-issued by Island Records in August 1979 when it peaked on the UK Chart at #37.

14th Floor - Television Personalities
Debut single from the band that would bring us Part Time Punks in November 1978.

The Murder of Liddle Towers - Angelic Upstarts
Self-Released Debut single in May 1978

Justifiable Homicde - Dave Goodman and Friends
Released on The Label in July 1978.

Both the Angelic Upstarts and the Dave Goodman and Friends single deal with exactly the same subject matter.
Liddle Towers (a 39-year-old electrician and amateur boxing coach) was arrested outside the Key Club in Birtley on 16 January 1976 by PC Goodner. After a struggle he was put into a dog van by six policemen and taken to Gateshead police station. Later, at 4 am, he was taken from the station to Queen Elizabeth Hospital because he complained of not feeling well, and, after an examination which apparently revealed no injury and nothing wrong with him, he was taken back to the cells. He was discharged later that same morning at 10 o'clock.
Both the taxi driver who took Towers home and his local GP, Dr Alan Powney, who saw him later that day at 2 o'clock, gave evidence that was consistent with Towers' own account of having been assaulted in the cells. Towers told his friend: 'They gave us a bloody good kicking outside the Key Club, but that was naught to what I got when I got inside'. Towers died on 9 February 1976 at Dryburn Hospital, County Durham from injuries received at the hands of the police during the night of 15–16 January.
On 8 October 1976, an inquest into the death of Towers returned a verdict of justifiable homicide. The case had been reported in the national press and the verdict was widely criticised, causing considerable disquiet over both the integrity of the Northumbria Police and of police behaviour and accountability in general . On 3 May 1977, the Attorney-General, in answer to a Written Question from the MP for Chester-le-Street Giles Radice, said that the DPP had "decided that the evidence was not such as to justify the institution of criminal proceedings against any officer." Later, on 8 July, the Home Secretary recorded his refusal to set up an inquiry under the provision of S32 Police Act (1964).
The justifiable homicide verdict was appealed and, on June 1978, was set aside by the Queen's Bench Divisional Court, which ordered a new inquest. The second inquest, held in Bishop Auckland in October 1978, reached a verdict of 'death by misadventure'.
The Tom Robinson Band dedicated their 1979 album, TRB Two to Mary Towers, the mother of Liddle Towers. The song "Blue Murder" on this album relates to the death of Towers.

19 & Mad - Leyton Buzzards
I still can't get my head around the fact that this lot ended up as Modern Romance! I absolutely loved this single on Small Wonder Records.

The Addington Shuffle - The Drug Addix
From their Debut The Drug Addix Make A Record EP. The EP was released on Chiswick Records. The band of course is known for featuring a young lady on backing vocals called Mandy Doubt who was infact Kirsty MacColl.

"A" Bomb In Wardour Street - The Jam
Double A-Side with David Watts and a powerful song about the violence of the times! Didn't get an awful lot of airplay but David Watts did and the single peaked at #25 on the charts. Version on the Playlist is from a live performance on Revolver.

I'm Sorry, I'm Sorry - Tanz Der Youth
They were quite short lived releasing only one single. The band featured Brian James (ex-The Damned) and Andy Colqhoun (ex-Warsaw Pakt). Supported Black Sabbath on Tour and played Reading Festival before disappearing. 

10.15 Saturday Night - The Cure
Was the B-Side to the Debut Single Killing An Arab released in August 1978 on Small Wonder Records. The version on the Playlist is from their John Peel Session in December 1978.

I Love You You Big Dummy - Magazine
B-Side to the single Give Me Everything. A great cover of a Captain Beefheart classic.

Ain't You - Kleenex
Swiss Girl Band who first released this as part of a Four Track EP on the Sunrise Label and then whittled it down to two tracks for release by Rough Trade Records. They had to change their name due to a dispute with the Toilet Paper manufacturer who had a product of the same name! They became Liliput.

We finish with a wee flavour of Northern Ireland and in particular the Good Vibrations label.
Big Time - Rudi
Northern Irish band and debut and first single released on Good Vibrations label (GOT 1).

Strange Thing By Night - Victim
Second release on Good Vibrations label (GOT 2).

Justa Nother Teenage Rebel - The Outcasts
Second release from Northern Irish band The Outcasts and their first for Good Vibrations (GOT 3).

Don't Ring Me Up - Protex
GOT 6 on the Good Vibrations label, and another great wee band from Northern Ireland.

Teenage Kicks - The Undertones
Probably one of the greatest songs ever I reckon (and so did John Peel). GOT 4 on the Good Vibrations label and a brilliant Debut EP from Derry's finest.


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