Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Twist and Shout

Cover version of the month #29
The Beatles cover The Isley Brothers

The Beatles version of Twist and Shout closes their debut album Please Please Me in an absolutely show stopping way. Nothing could follow it.

Any fellow fans of The Beatles (that haven't already) should track down a copy of Ian MacDonald's epic Revolution In The Head that digs into the recording of each Beatles song in chronological order.

MacDonald's research and findings are staggering - to read through The Beatles catalogue and learn about their experimentation, mistakes and learnings is absolutely fascinating. And I particularly enjoyed reading about the recording of The Beatles debut Please Please Me that was recorded from start to finish on 11th February 1963.

By the time they reached Twist and Shout, Lennon knew he only had one shot at producing the raw, rasping, soulful vocal that he had brought to the song through his time playing in clubs from Liverpool to Hamburg.

The energy The Beatles pour into the song is outrageous. Lennon pushes his voice to the limits from the off, listen to him going for it and stretching it to breaking point.

Come on, come on, come on, come on baby now
Come on and work it all out
Well work it all oooouuuuttt

The Beatles push it even further, the song breaks down at 1 minute 9 seconds and then the band egg each other on to scream, the beat rises with their voices and they go back into the song.

By the time they get to 2 minutes and 7 seconds they are pushing themselves to the brink, foot stomping their way through 3 repeated lines that must have sounded like the most exciting and sexy music ever back in 1963 - it still stands up today.

Well shake it, shake it, shake it baby now (shake it up baby)
Well shake it, shake it, shake it baby now (shake it up baby)
Well shake it, shake it, shake it baby now (shake it up baby)

The band then scream to conclusion - song done, album done, all in one day - exhausted, elated.

The band attempted a second take but Lennon's voice was shot, he had nothing left to give and it was abandoned. Take 1 is the version on Please Please Me, the only version.

I love the version from The Royal Variety Performance in November 1963 where Lennon introduces the song by asking will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands and the rest of you if you just rattle your jewellery. Rumours are that he wanted to say rattle your f**king jewellery.

Check this outrageous version from Melbourne in 1964, no-one was telling singers to look after their voices in those days!

Yet again when it comes to cover version of the month I learn that what I deemed to be the original is not in fact the original. I thought the original version was by The Isley Brothers, it was certainly the version The Beatles covered - injecting pace and rock n roll into The Isley Brothers song through years of playing in clubs.

The song was written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns (later credited as Bert Russell) and recorded by a band called The Top Notes with a certain young Phil Spector (pre Wall of Sound) producing. It flopped and it does sound pretty lame and terrible if you take the time to check it out HERE.

The Isley Brothers took it and made it into a hit. And what a hit - it really is a brilliant rock n roll/soul song to dance and shout to. Aptly named! Check it HERE.

And I couldn't write a blog without including the 'version' that introduced me to the song. Matthew Broderick miming to The Beatles on a carnival float in the 80's classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Previous covers of the month

Friday, 15 September 2017

Returned From Sea

Amanda, Heather, Sophie and Jonathan

At the age of 41 I still have dreams about being in a band. This band tends to be a 4-piece - 2 guitars, bass and drums and be a kind of indie guitar pop band like The Lemonheads or Teenage Fanclub, with the odd 11-minute psychedelic wig out or detour into electronica.

But last night I watched Sister John play the first of 2 sold out shows at The Hug and Pint to celebrate the release of their stunning debut album Returned From Sea and wished I could be in a band like theirs.

A band that can play slow, with tender care, pull off 4 part harmonies with ease; a band that can jam, choose super cool covers by having super cool taste, swap instruments, sound like angels and write truly beautiful songs.

So yeah, I'm a fan and The Hug and Pint show was superb.

Returned From Sea 
Stunning artwork by Brian Sweeney

Returned From Sea is warm, lush, sublime, beautiful and wonderful. As I type I'm listening to Rider On The Hill when the band just play on with gorgeous oooh oooh oooh oooh's sounding heavenly.

Opener Thinner Air will pull you in in a heartbeat, you're immediately in Sister John's world. It feels kind of familiar but new, you'll definitely like it. Single Sweetest Moment flows sweetly and freely, sounding impossibly easy and pure.

Singer and songwriter Amanda McKeown has an incredible voice that she uses wisely - whispering, soaring, using all her power at times, taking it right back at others.

How good are they? The first time I heard Backstreet Swimmers I wondered who they were covering. I felt the same with Try To Be Good. Was it an old Neil Young or Gram Parson song?

No, both were written by Amanda and with help from her exceptionally talented band - Jonathan Lilley on guitars, keys, bass, harmonica, percussion and backing vocals; Heather Phillips on violin and backing vocals and Sophie Pragnell on viola, drums, percussion and backing vocals - they are both gems.

I see you everyday and I think of the sun
If there's a simple thing I can do it now
And when I write it down
I can try to be good

Returned From Sea is an album with real depth. Dive in, stay in, the water is warm and soothing.

The inside gatefold sleeve

See You Again is almost like a lullaby, so tender, so beautiful, so simple - but yet so clever. The slide guitar is spine tinglingly slow and beautiful.

One of my live favourites from The Hug and Pint was Sister John's Dream, it was quite Velvets-y. Swallowed The Moon was also a live highlight with Amanda introducing the song by asking everyone to think of someone that has pulled them through at some point. Amanda pours her heart and soul on to vinyl; you can hear it and feel it.

This is such a strong album; 12-songs that are all really beautiful. Amanda McKeown is a special talent - as are her band.

Listen to the violin and viola sound like they are weeping on Friends and then listen to Amanda's heartbreaking fragile voice and then feel a tingle down your spine - wow! Very special.

We're the same
We chose the sun
But saw the rain

Gone is another stunner. He Came Down is just beautiful. It's hard to capture just how special this album is. So listen yourself.

Search on Spotify to stream immediately but do yourself a favour and order the gatefold vinyl from the Last Night From Glasgow website.

Sister John will be playing more shows; those announced are; 04/11 Braemar Gallery, Braemar and 19/11 Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

There Are No Saints

I first listened to Siobhan Wilson's There Are No Saints the week after its July release. It was a gorgeous sunny day, I was out at my Mum's in Carluke and I downloaded the album so I could listen to it on the drive home.

The windows were down and the sun was beaming down, shades were on. In truth, I'd normally choose something far more upbeat than this beauty of an album to drive to. But the music captivated me. It stayed on and I even took a detour home so I could listen to it all.

A month or two on and I am listening to the album on headphones, marvelling at Siobhan Wilson's voice, the arrangements and most of all the feel of the album. It is gorgeous.

Wilson is classically trained and on songs like Disaster and Grace when she plays piano, backed by strings, she sounds like a dream - really beautiful, what a voice.

The production, by Chris McCrory of Catholic Action, is just perfect. Wilson and McCrory allow the songs space to breath. Whether backed by fuzzy electric guitar, piano or strings, Siobhan Wilson sounds heavenly. Just listen to Whatever Helps.

You're stuck in the break of a wave
You're haunted by a line from a song

Siobhan divides her time between Scotland and Paris and if anything her voice sounds even more sexy and dreamy when she sings in French. J'attendrai is exquisite, sounding like it could be from a French Disney film - gorgeous melodies. Paris Est Blanche is just magical.

Make You Mine is jaw dropping, heart stopping, spine tingling gorgeousness. Wow! Even managing an AC/DC reference!

Closer It Must Have Been The Moon is another stunner. This has an Eva Cassidy kind of feel to it. Just gorgeous.

Check this brilliant feature on Drowned In Sound where Siobhan gives a track by track guide to the album. They describe There Are No Saints perfectly as elegant and beautiful, dark and stormy.

I really hope to catch Siobhan playing live in the near future. Check her website for live dates. Scottish dates confirmed at present are 24/09 Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh and 28/09 Tolbooth, Stirling. You can stream, download or buy a CD or vinyl by visiting Song By Toad Records.

Siobhan covering Aztec Camera for The Quay Sessions

Monday, 11 September 2017

Never Ending Mixtape 13

Lou Barlow

Welcome to a second edition of the Never Ending Mixtape for September. I've been travelling by train quite a bit lately and this allows quality time to listen to music. So through August and the start of September I added more songs than normal to the Never Ending Mixtape playlist on Spotify.

There is a real indie-guitar vibe to a lot of the songs listed below. Lou Barlow is represented by Sebadoh and Folk Implosion, The White Stripes have 2 songs - the beautiful We're Going To Be Friends and the raw soulful and brilliantly titled Forever For Her (Is Over For Me), Yo La Tengo have 2, there is a cult fave by Camper Van Beethoven, Creation Records are represented, we have 3 from The Lemonheads, a beauty by The Go-Betweens, a rush of guitar pop brilliance by Sugar, some electro by Miaoux Miaoux and Happy Meals and some great new tunes I discovered by Girl Ray and The Courtneys (video at the end of the blog). Oh and Edwyn Collins is in there and Gerry Love's side project Lightships - and much, much more!

I hope you enjoy these songs. Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or click on the link HERE. Scroll down to discover these songs, or dive in anywhere.

Skull  - Sebadoh
Insinuation - Folk Implosion
We're Going To Be Friends - The White Stripes
Forever For Her (Is Over For Me) - The White Stripes
I Heard You Looking - Yo La Tengo
Autumn Sweater - Yo La Tengo
Girlfriend - Matthew Sweet
Low - Cracker
Take The Skinheads Bowling - Camper Van Beethoven
Almost Prayed - The Weather Prophets
Cut Me Deep - The Jasmine Minks
Stove - The Lemonheads
Into Your Arms - The Lemonheads
Mallo Cup - The Lemonheads
Crazy Town - Velocity Girl
Spring Rain - The Go-Betweens
If I Can't Change Your Mind - Sugar
Cannonball - The Breeders
Pacer - The Amps
Don't Shilly Shally - Edwyn Collins
Stop The Clocks - Miaoux Miaoux
Altered Images - Happy Meals
Trouble - Girl Ray
Somebody - Dream Wife
Silver and Gold - Lightships
90210 - The Courtneys

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 12

Welcome, welcome, welcome to another jam packed blog where I add songs to the Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify.

Dig in to one of Damon Albarn's  most heartbreaking songs, marvel at Handsome Boy Modelling School stunning Them Truth, the garage rock pop punk delight of The Strokes, euphoric electronic dance courtesy of Ultraworld that I discovered via an Optimo tweet, a song I checked cause it has a cool title, the glorious One Dove, the truly beautiful Night Nurse, two early gems by Primal Scream, funk, soul, acid jazz,  4 stormers from early Beatles, 3 choice cuts from Rodriguez and throw in The Box Tops, The McCoys and much, much more, ending with the dreamy beauty Junk from Paul McCartney.

The Never Ending Mixtape is now sitting at 238 songs! Open Spotify and search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape or just CLICK HERE.

Scroll down to start with the latest additions, play from the start, on shuffle or however you want. Let me know what you think.

No Distance Left To Run - Blur

The Truth - Handsome Boy Modelling School featuring Roisin Murphy

Someday - The Strokes
Last Nite

Wait - The Kills

House Of The Jealous Lovers - The Rapture

Northern Piano (hardcore piano mix) -Ultraworld

Strings Of Life (Danny Krivit re-edit) - Soul Central

Where Love Lives (Come On In) - Alison Limerick

Perfume (Loved Up) - Paris Angels

White Love (Radio Mix) - One Dove

The High Road - Broken Bells

Johny Stays Cool - The Babe Rainbow

Night Nurse - Dean and Britta

Love You - Primal Scream

Velocity Girl - Primal Scream

Son Of A Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield

Love and Happiness - Al Green

Get Up Offa That Thing - James Brown

I Want To Take You Higher - Sly and the Family Stone

Hang On Sloopy - The McCoys

Goody Goody Gumdrops - 1910 Fruitgum Company

The Letter - The Box Tops

Twist and Shout - The Beatles
I'm Down 
Bad Boy 
Long Tall Sally 

Sugar Man - Rodriguez
I Think Of You

I Got My Baby Back - Lorraine Ellison

Man With The Golden Touch - Charles Thomas

You Forgot How To Love - Patti LaBelle

Afternoon of the Rhino - Mike Post Coalition

Something's Burnin' - The Marvellos

Got Myself A Good Man - Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers

Nuther'n Like Nuther'n - Willis Jackson

O'Baby (I Believe I'm Losing You) - Billy Hawks

Brand New Girl - Billy Garner

Soul Brother's Testify Part 1 - Chester Rendle's Soul Sender's
Soul Brother's Testify Part 2

I'm Just  A Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin') - Candi Staton

The Young Mod's Forgotten Story - The Impressions

Junk - Paul McCartney

Monday, 4 September 2017

Electric Fields

A number of things meant that I couldn't make it to Electric Fields this weekend. It was the first year in as along as I can remember that I haven't attended a summer music festival!

Reports from fellow music fans and from bands/artists I know that attended the festival have been very favourable and it is pleasing to see Electric Fields developing and improving year on year.

I look forward to getting back into the festival saddle in 2018.

Previous guest blogger Gordon Reid was there and was happy to report back.

Electric Fields by Gordon Reid

Scotland has a fine tradition of music festivals. TITP in its heyday ,  Connect , Rockness and Wickerman have all come and sadly gone. Belladrum is now the grand old lady starting in 2004 , TRNSMT the new kid on the block in its debut year and Electric Fields the young upstart growing , changing and adapting to its place in the calendar. We were there for the opening year 2014 and decided on another weekend visit to see how things had moved on. 

**other festivals are available**

Set in the grounds of the picturesque Drumlanrig Castle near Thornhill it has grown from a single day 2 stage small affair into a 2 day, 5000 capacity small/medium festival and it has done so without losing any of its original charm. Large well spaced car parking area with a camping site that has been well set out (could do with more lights on the walkways after dark) and an arena large enough to have areas to chill out in (something TRNSMT really lacked) while still being compact enough that everything was easy to find and get to and from quickly.

Food and drink was priced as expected and while I found the choice of vegetarian food a little limited I found a pizza stall so I was quite content with my lot. Varied drink available including what looked to be a specialist ale bar, they also had dark fruit cider so the wife was delighted. I got the feeling that that growth of Electric Fields is connected to Wickerman calling it a day as we met a lot of familiar faces from Dundrennan in the crowd. There were plenty of young kids present over the weekend and there seemed to be a few things for them to do as it can be hard to keep their attention with just the music. It’s always great to see kids at these things as they will be the future for music in general and festivals in particular. I honestly couldn’t find a real fault in the set up and organisation of the event and that might be a first for me, of course the fact that the sun shone all weekend might have helped!

pic from Electric Fields Facebook

So having arrived,  got our tent set up , air mattress blown up and bed sorted we wandered up to the arena and the music. First band we wanted to see were Nieves and we trooped into the tent just before starting time at 3. They had really changed their sound and look since last time we had caught them. Much heavier and less laid back than we remembered them. I made my way to the front of the stage to check it out. Yeah the new look and sound wasn't that surprising as they had switched time slots with SAVAGE MANSION,  a Glasgow 4 piece. One of the band had a superb pair of sideburns and the tunes were pretty decent. They are playing The Old Hairdressers on Oct 7th if you are around. This threw our carefully planned schedule off track and we had to go get food and missed the band we went to see but it won’t be the last time we catch Nieves.

One well fired cheese and tomato pizza later we were back in the tent to see THE CALM FIASCO, another Glasgow 4 piece and one that we have seen quite a bit of. They looked a little nervous as the tent was quite empty but they had no need to be as the place began filling up quickly once they got going. Highlights were lead singer Del Morin paying tribute to Dizzee Rascal by covering Fix Up Look Sharp strutting about the stage rapping to the amusement of the other band members. They brought their set to a close with Just Don’t Care Any More and left the now full tent shouting for more. Enthusiastic and clearly enjoying something that they are doing well they have a gig coming up at The Art School on November 18th and tickets are going fast. I'd encourage folk to give them a try as you won’t be disappointed.

We took our first trip to the main stage after this to see PETER HOOK and the light. There was something strange about seeing and hearing Hookie as a lead singer doing New Order / Joy Division stuff and although I enjoyed the sing along it just didn’t feel right. I know that they have issues with each other and have said never again but I hope one day that Bernie and Peter manage to bury the hatchet or at least put up with each other long enough to be on stage together again.

Pic from Electric Fields Facebook

The temperature dropped to bloody freezing about this time and we got ourselves a warm drink and headed back down to the tent where we discovered our brand new air mattress had a puncture and we would be spending the night sleeping on the ground. Heidi did her best to cheer me up by informing me that at least the ground was soft. She’s lucky that she is pretty. At 30 I would have just got on with it but at 50 I’m getting too old for this shit.

A cold night and hard ground made a trip to Dumfries for a new air mattress an absolute necessity so after making breakfast we made the 45 minute round trip. Once again I managed to get stage times mixed up so that we only just made it back in time for MEDICINE MEN and we were glad that we did as they were in my top two acts of the weekend. A heaving tent bounced along with every song and they almost blew it all away when finishing the set with Out Of The Light. Stop reading this and go find it on YouTube,  I’ll wait. The sea of smiling faces was fantastic to watch , people high fiving strangers as they sang the chorus at the top of their voices. Medicine Men are certainly going places and they are picking up speed on the journey.

Next up for us were THE BEAT and once again it was a chance for all us older folk to sing our hearts out to songs from our childhood ( I used to laugh at my parents for this ).  I’ve missed the Scooter tent from Wickerman so it was nice to have a little bit of ska in there.

We then had the “London bus” effect as 3 bands we wanted to see all overlapped. We had to leave before the end of The Beat to make sure we got into the tent for CRASH CLUB. We got lucky as it was rammed with bodies , it felt as if everyone at the festival was in that tent and they were treated to a superb set from the best Scottish Electro-Rock band out there. The ground was shaking and reminded me of younger days long since gone in the slam tent at T. The music screamed in your face as they lifted the crowd up , let them dangle on the edge and then threw it all back in the mix as they took off again. For me they were the star spot of the weekend and if you haven’t seen them yet then try to do so , you won’t regret it.

We missed the last 10 minutes as we needed to eat and wanted to catch FATHERSON. The boys from Kilmarnock headlined the first ever Electric Fields and have gone from strength to strength since then. They looked delighted to be back and it feels like they have been touring constantly on the continent.

We stayed at the main stage for GLASS ANIMALS. Heard a lot about them but I couldn’t see what the hype was all about however Heidi thought they were amazing. She knows her stuff so we will give them another try next time they are north of the border. I had the same with JESUS AND MARY CHAIN , I was really looking forward to them but it just felt flat to me. In both of the bands defence I was cold and tired so it was probably the mood I was in and the way I was feeling. I didn’t stay for DIZZEE but Heidi did and said he had the crowd eating out of his hand. Everyone bouncing about and it was a cool way to bring the weekend to an end.

Electric Fields has definitely found its place on the festival circuit but now comes the hard part. Does it stick or twist? Is it the right size or will they try and get more bodies through the gates? I’d like to see it stay roughly the same for now but that’s not my call. I hope they make the right one......

Pic from Electric Fields Facebook

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

How The West Was Won by Peter Perrett

A post by Teenage Fanclub's Gerry Love led me to check out the title track of How The West Was Won by Peter Perrett. The slow guitar groove is reminiscent of the Velvets and Perrett's voice sounds like an anglicised Lou Reed; scheming about dirty bombs on Wall Street, gatecrashing a Rothschild party and dreaming about J Lo and Kim Kardashian. The humour, style and delivery is just spot on, the slide guitar is glorious.

I read a couple of reviews and they were very complimentary, so I dove in to the album....and really fell for it. How The West Was Won is chiming guitars, a tight rhythm section and the sound of Perrett pouring his heart out, it is pure, soulful and true.

Perrett was lead singer for The Only Ones, author of the brilliant Another Girl, Another Planet single, a thrilling slice of energetic punk pop that was released in 1978 and somehow flopped.

The Only Ones split and Perrett vanished into a world of heroin and crack addiction. Perrett's work is often autobiographical - especially on songs like Hard To Say No and Living In My Head.

I'm gonna go for help
And talk about my fear
The only time I'm well
Is when you're near

Troika is the kind of song The Libertines would kill for, jangly guitars and a catchy melancholic lovelorn vocal.

Right from the start
When you captured my heart

An Epic Story is the sound of someone happy and the guitars sound glorious on Man Of Extremes with Perrett pouring his heart out - half singing, half talking. It's beautiful, soulful and pure. Under 3-minutes of guitar pop brilliance.

There's no place left to hide
There's no place to be free

Sweet Endeavour has a beautiful sweet spot, rising superbly, Perrett's band sounding superb behind his flowing chorus that follow his punk poetry verses.

It doesn't last forever, it took you for a ride
Life's sweet endeavour, you never even tried
You never grabbed the moment, you never crossed that bridge

Pic by Steve Gullick

The beauty in this album lies with it's simplicity, much of it sounds like the band are jamming and Perrett is singing or talking at random about whatever is on his mind and it is largely about love. It is a stunning album, raw emotion is pouring out of Perrett and he makes it sound 

Perret is at his best on C Voyurger

I can't live without the girl I love
There's no point living in a world without her love
I'll wait for you
I crave for you

This is such a refreshing album - the directness, humour and sense of purpose is quite unique. Just listen to Something In My Brain as Perrett compares his life to that of a rat. This is a guy who played shows with The Only Ones 10-years ago with the aid of an oxygen mask, his lungs were so ruined by crack. He is now 5-years clean.

Just like the experiment with a rat
He could choose food or he could choose crap
The rat he starved to death
But I didn't die, at least not yet
I'm still just about capable of one last defiant breath

Rocks got into me, oh yeah
Now rock n roll is back in me, oh yeah

Take Me Home closes an exceptional album, one with a real purpose, you feel that this is something Perrett had to get out of his system. The album is remarkable, Perrett follow it by playing some shows including one at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow on 30th October. TICKETS HERE