Sunday, 22 October 2017

Wedding DJ

6-years ago my friend Jillian asked me to DJ at her wedding. I was delighted to accept. The wedding was to be held in the beautiful House for an Art Lover in Glasgow, a venue I was familiar with as it had also been the setting for my friends Phil and Mary's wedding.

Jillian and Chris' wedding was a real blur. There was a free bar and it was draft Stella. I was sharing DJ duties with a guy from France called Tony. French Tony - as there was also a Scottish Tony. He cleared the dance floor several times so the decks became mine and I played Motown, 60's beat groups, Bowie, Roxy Music and then fine pop including Madonna, Kylie, S-Express and Deee-lite. All music I loved.

Jillian and Chris also introduced me to Ruby Andrews beautiful Just Loving You as that was their first dance. What a choice! It is a cracker and I'd later be interviewed on 6music by Craig Charles on his Funk and Soul show and he marvelled at the song - he hadn't heard it before.

I must have made an impression on Jillian's sister Jules as 2-months ago she got in contact to ask if I would DJ at her wedding.

We had a couple of chats and it was clear that other than the first dance (Andy Williams - You're Just To Good To Be True), Jules and Duncan completely trusted me to get people dancing and ensure everyone had a good time. No pressure!

1st dance

I love a good wedding reception. I trusted my friend Phil to DJ at my own wedding reception, but I also met with him several times to discuss 'must plays'!

For this reception I decided against vinyl. It was to be Spotify and/or iTunes. I discovered a great little APP called DJJAY2 for only £4.99 that allows you to DJ electronically on an iPad using Spotify.  You can mix, there are effects and if you have WIFI then you have quite a catalogue at your disposal!



I have always loved dj-ing with vinyl. You can only play what you have and if you're playing a 3-minute Motown special then you have extremely limited time to select and choose your next record and get it all queued up. I have always liked the excitement of choosing one, only to get it all queued up and then change my mind and fight against time to get another one chosen and ready.

But common sense prevailed on this occasion. I decided to go digital and it definitely helped on the night as in the end I took some requests for the Gay Gordons and Dashing White Sergeant (both of which were amazing) and also ended up playing songs I hadn't included on my 200+ Spotify playlist that I had created for the evening. Why Does It Always Rain On Me by Travis was also requested as it is the family anthem and that became clear when I played it!

Other than those requests, everything I played was entirely my choice. I fretted over playing Toploader (euuugghhh) but it packed the dancefloor. I also cleared the dance floor a couple of times! It was packed for The Fratellis Chelsea Dagger so I thought I'd keep it upbeat with Rocks by Primal Scream, but people vanished! Maybe they were just a little tired cause it had been pretty busy from the off!

The Proclaimers and Runrig were predictable but euphoric Scottish highs. Sunshine On Leith towards the end of the night was absolutely beautiful. Deacon Blue's Dignity sounded incredible.

Dancing and singing

The benefit of WIFI and DJ-ing electronically meant that I stuck Tony Christie, Black Lace (yeah i played them after people started a conga during Tony Christie), the Village People, the O'Jays and Journey off the cuff - I wondered why I hadn't thought of them beforehand! Total party tunes, really euphoric sing-a-longs and cheesey party anthems!

It was a great night in the stunning Ardoch House near Loch Lomond. There were many highlights; seeing people going crazy to Yazz, hugging and singing at top voice to Hey Jude, or being mesmerised by the beauty of Sunshine On Leith was incredible. And those from England who had never attended a Scottish wedding before were blown away by Runrig's Loch Lomond and the traditional circular pogo. I then followed that up with a cheeky encore of Whitney's classic I Wanna Dance With Somebody to end the night.

The last 2 songs of the night

The DJAY2 APP keeps a list of the songs played in each set that you can then transfer to a Spotify playlist. So check that below and there is also a full setlist. NOTE - for some reason it doesn't transfer to Spotify in order played!

It was great fun and it has totally got me in the mood for organising a night of playing records with friends and having a party.


Pre evening reception tunes
Somewhere In My Heart - Aztec Camera
Sparky's Dream - Teenage Fanclub
Baby I Need Your Loving - Four Tops
Good Vibrations - Beach Boys

Reception
Can't Take My Eyes Off You - Andy Williams
Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
For Once In My Life - Stevie Wonder
Happy - Pharrell Williams
Twist and Shout - The Beatles
Love Is In The Air - John Paul Young
Can't Stop The Feeling - Justin Timberlake
Dancing On The Ceiling - Lionel Ritchie
Human - The Killers
Chelsea Dagger - The Fratellis
Rocks - Primal Scream
Do Your Thing - Basement Jaxx
Everybody Dance - Chic
Into The Groove - Madonna
Gay Gordons - Jimmy Stand (played twice!)
I'm Gonna Be (500 miles) - The Proclaimers
Don't Stop Me Now - Queen
Jump - Van Halen
Oh Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison
I Want To Hold Your Hand - The Beatles
I'm A Believer - The Monkees
Just Loving You - Ruby Andrews
Why Does It Always Rain On Me - Travis
Dashing White Sergeant - Jimmy Shand
You Can Call Me Al - Paul Simon
Valerie - Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson
Dancing Queen - ABBA
Atomic - Blondie
The Only Way Is Up - Jazz
You Got The Love - The Source and Candi Staton
Groove Is In The Heart - Deee-lite
Just Can't Get Enough - Depeche Mode
Common People - Pulp
I Want You Back - Jackson 5
Don't Leave Me This Way - Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes
Stop! In The Name Of Love - The Supremes
Get Off Of My Cloud - The Rolling Stones
Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
Young Hearts Run Free - Candi Staton
Dancing In The Moonlight - Toploader
Let's Dance - David Bowie
More Than A Woman - Bee Gees
Get Lucky - Daft Punk
She's Electric - Oasis
Hey Jude - The Beatles
I'm Gonna Be (500 miles) - The Proclaimers
(Is This Way To) Amarillo - Tony Christie
Do The Conga - Black Lace
YMCA - Village People
Love Train - The O'Jays
Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
Dignity - Deacon Blue
Sunshine On Leith - The Proclaimers
Loch Lomond (live) - Runrig
I Wanna Dance With Somebody - Whitney Houston




Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Beatles In Scotland


I recently enjoyed reading Ken McNab's fascinating book - The Beatles In Scotland.

McNab digs into Lennon's childhood holidays in Durness and love of the Highlands, his Scottish relatives and his trip up north (and car crash) with Yoko and children that resulted in them spending a week in hospital. There is a chapter on the Scottish Beatle - Stuart Sutcliffe, fantastic memories from photographers like Harry Benson, fans, Scottish musicians that played and toured with them and plenty on the Mull of Kintyre and on McCartney's drug bust when he was caught growing cannabis with great quotes from his Scottish lawyers.

I would thoroughly recommend the book to fellow Scottish fans of The Beatles. For the purposes of this blog though, I'll share a few stories. A full list of dates The Beatles (and Silver Beetles) played in Scotland is listed at the end.

Tales of their little known 1960 tour when they were still The Silver Beetles supporting Johnny Gentle, a fellow Liverpudlian, are truly remarkable. Did Scotland experience the first signs of Beatlemania?

Arguably yes, although the boys didn't win the hearts of everyone. The 5 Silver Beetles in 1960 were Lennon (19), McCartney (17 and just weeks from school exams), Stuart Sutcliffe (19 and born in Edinburgh), Harrison (17) and Tommy Moore (36) the latest in a long line of ad-hoc drummers.

Their first ever Scottish set included One After 909 (later to appear on Let It Be) and covers of songs by Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

Lennon reportedly got in a clinch with a local girl called Wilma and pissed off her boyfriend!

The Beatles were skint and Johnny Gentle had to phone the promoter to advance the boys more cash. It sounds like Gentle looked after them and spotted their potential and recognised their charm. The lads ended up having local girls stitching their shirts at one point. They slept in their van after their show in Nairn.

On the 1960 tour Sir Paul has said 'It was important in helping us get our relationships right with each other.'

Come January 1963 The Beatles were straight from a residency in the red light district of Hamburg to playing the delights of Elgin, Dingwall and the Bridge of Allan. It must have been a comedown! Although in Hamburg they played for up to 6-hours at a time, on this tour it was short 40-minute sets and by this point Ringo was on drums and Love Me Do had been released. Still, 200 was their biggest crowd when they played Aberdeen.

But come their June and October shows, Beatlemania was in force.

Legendary Scottish music journalist and broadcaster, the late Stewart Cruickshanks, was just 12 when he saw them at the ABC in Edinburgh in 1964. The Twist and Shout EP was the first record he ever bought.

Stewart told Ken; 'The pervading atmosphere was one of bedlam. The kids, and especially the girls, were there to let off steam. And they did. It was viscerally exciting because you knew you were part of a special moment, and you felt at the same time that you shouldn't be part of it.'

Stewart continued; 'When they came on stage, I had never heard so much noise in my life. I don't think I was too bothered, though, because it was just enough to see them. You had the records if you wanted to listen to the Beatles.'

I'll leave other stories and quotes to the book. It is a must for any fellow Scottish fans of The Beatles, a really fascinating insight into their development and what happened in Scotland; from 1960 all the way through to the Mull of Kintyre and beyond.

The Beatles, STV's Roundup interview with the Fab 4 from 1964


20/05/60 - Town Hall, Alloa
21/05/60 - Northern Meeting Ballroom, Inverness
23/05/60 - Dalrymple Hall, Fraserburgh
25/05/60 - St Thomas's Hall, Keith
26/05/60 - Town Hall, Forres
27/05/60 - Regal Ballroom, Nairn
28/05/60 - Rescue Hall, Peterhead

03/01/63 - Longmore Hall, Keith (cancelled)
03/01/63 - Two Red Shoes, Elgin
04/01/63 - Town Hall, Dingwall
05/01/63 - Museum Hall, Bridge of Allan
06/01/63 - Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen

07/06/63 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow w/ Roy Orbison

05/10/63 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow
06/10/63 - Calton Cinema, Kirkcaldy
07/10/63 - Caird Hall, Dundee

29/04/64 - ABC Cinema, Edinburgh
30/04/64 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow

19/10/64 - ABC Cinema, Edinburgh
20/10/64 - Caird Hall, Dundee
21/10/64 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow

03/12/65 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow (2 shows)



Friday, 13 October 2017

A year of Spotify



Around a year ago I joined Spotify!!!!

F**K!

I always said I wouldn't......I held off for so long.......but I joined. Read on as I try to justify it to myself, try to do the sums for the company and for artists and scroll right down to the first playlist I created- almost 7 hours long and featuring 100 songs by Scottish artists!

I can actually remember the day I joined.  I spent a pleasant day off with no kids, anything on my to do list or anything really to do at all. That doesn't happen too often! I spent about 4 hours listening to loads of Scottish music. Some of my faves, songs I haven't heard in ages and bands/songs I have always wanted to check out.

And then on Saturday when the kids went to bed I checked out an album Carole King made with her short-lived band The City. I had read about it in The Times that day and then, just like that, it was at my fingertips.

Fear not artists and record shops. I will always buy records or merch. It is vitally important to support musicians by buying their work...if you enjoy it. They need money to to buy equipment, to rehearse, learn and gel, to get around and ultimately to record. And quite simply, I do love browsing in a record shop! I don't think I have ever been into Monorail without coming away with something!

Spotify - it initially felt like cheating. Even though it is legal.

A year down the line, any thoughts of cheating have long been banished. Spotify is now part of my life on a daily basis, it is the new norm. It is convenient, user friendly and it allows me to explore all kinds of stuff quickly and with ease. I don't think I have used iTunes since I joined Spotify for the pricely sum of £9.99 per month. Jeez, when I think of what I used to spend on a Monday lunchtime in HMV in the mid-90's!

I'm not alone, more and more people are joining the Spotify revolution - Forbes reported that they had hit 50 million paid subscribers back in March 2017. That was less than 6-months after reporting they had hit 40-million. Pretty strong growth!

The amount of money actually paid out to artists is negligible. Something like 0.004p per play/stream. In comparison, 1 play on Radio 1 will earn the songwriter around £50.

So for the likes of Calvin Harris whose This Is What You Came For is approaching an unbelievable 800,000,000 (yeah 800 million) plays - he should be earning around £3.2 million from Spotify just for that one song.

For another Scottish artist Duglas T Stewart has seen his seminal BMX Bandits song Serious Drugs achieve over 55,000 plays. Sounds like a lot, but it only earns the artist (the songwriter) around £220.

Gerry Love from Teenage Fanclub should have earned around £8,800 for the 2.2 million plays of one of his most loved songs - Sparky's Dream.

But do the sums. Lets say they now have 60 million subscribers paying £9.99 per month. So, unless my calculator is mistaken, that is a whopping £599,400,000 per month that Spotify rakes in. I know they have a lot of songs - but how much goes out to artists on a monthly basis?!

All quite interesting. Songs (to an extent) have a shelf life on radio, unless you are talking Christmas hits. Online and on Spotify, they are timeless.

One of the reasons that I used to put off joining Spotify was the fact that I want artists to be rewarded for their efforts. So Spotify do....whether they pay enough or not is another matter entirely.

It doesn't look like Spotify is going anywhere anytime soon and artists are having to adapt to the fact that actual physical sales will never return to way they once were and why download when you can stream?

I regularly blog about my Never Ending Mixtape playlist on Spotify, but here is my first playlist. It has 100 songs and clocks in at almost 7-hours!

Named after a classic Fanclub album the 100 songs fly through Scottish musical history; from The Poets and Lulu in the 60's, early Simple Minds with the glorious Chelsea Girl, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, The Skids, 80's heavyweights like Deacon Blue, Wet Wet Wet and Texas, loads of indie legends like Orange Juice, Teenage Fanclub, The Vaselines, The Pastels, BMX Bandits and Jesus and Mary Chain, gone but not forgotten acts like AC Acoustics (great to listen to them again), Dogs Die In Hot Cars, the likes of Churches, Catholic Action and loads of DIY bands like Stanley Odd, Colonel Mustard and the Djion 5.

Not to mention Mogwai, Remember Remember, Arab Strap, The Blue Nile.....

Too many to mention, but check the playlist here. Volume 2 might follow soon. Arguably I should have titled the playlist after the first song!





Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 15













My Never Ending Mixtape - my Spotify playlist that I add to regularly and blog about once or twice a month - has now broken 300 songs. As the number of tunes increases I actually find that I am enjoying and playing the playlist a lot more - playing it on shuffle while walking around Glasgow, or in the car or on a train.

The latest edition sees songs from 2 recently released albums by Glaswegian artists Gerry Cinnamon and Sister John sit with possibly my 2 favourite Neil Young songs, a psychedelic gem from Marmalade, a belter from Dinosaur Jr, the first (I think) songs from The Stones on the mixtape, we have a beautiful gem from The Pastels, 80's Bowie, a pop belter from Blondie, a new single from St Vincent, 2 chiming guitar pop perfection tunes from the Stone Roses, 2 of my favourite songs from James with over 20-years between them, one from the Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs opus, The Cure, The Beatles, Jenny Lewis, Ben Kweller and it finishes with a Bee Gees classic.....well check the full list of latest additions below.

You can find the full playlist by searching for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or click HERE Play from the start, scroll down to the current additions or simply press shuffle.


Keysies - Gerry Cinnamon
Thinner Air - Sister John
Don't Cry, No Tears - Neil Young
Like A Hurricane - Neil Young
Going Down - Dinosaur Jr
I See The Rain - Marmalade
Rain - The Beatles
Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks
Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones
Sympathy For The Devil - The Rolling Stones
Out Of Time - The Rolling Stones
Melancholy Man - The Wake
Boys Don't Cry - The Cure
Inbetween Days - The Cure
Mersey Paradise - Stone Roses
Sally Cinnamon - Stone Roses
Sometimes - James
When My Boy Walks Down The Street - Magnetic Fields
Getting Away With It - James
Vivid Youth - The Pastels
Hang On In There Girl (instrumental) - Jesse
Davis Band
Atomic - Blondie
You're All In Need To Get By - Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Modern Love - David Bowie
Bruises - Chairlift
Just One Of The Guys - Jenny Lewis
Sundress - Ben Kweller
More Than A Woman - Bee Gees











Friday, 6 October 2017

Teenage Fanclub Peel Sessions


You may have gathered that I'm a Teenage Fanclub fan. I'm particularly proud to be a member of the Teenage Fanclub Fanclub. An online community that becomes reality when the Fanclub play live. I've met some great people from the Teenage Fanclub forum and Teenage Fanclub Fanclub Facebook page over the years and had great fun.

Jeez how many times did I mention Fanclub in that first paragraph!

Someone recently posted a link to the Fanclub Peel session, a record I own on 12-inch but I haven't dug it out in a long, long time. I stuck my headphones on and was transported back to my youth. 

John Peel was a legendary DJ who gave airtime and live sessions to many an up and coming artist over decades at Radio 1. His endorsement carried huge weight and could catapult bands to record deals or add tens of thousands to sales figures.

In a pre-internet era there was so much more excitement about the release of a record, or catching it on radio or on TV to hear what it was like.  If it wasn't on the playlist then it might only be played once on Peel. So you could blink and miss it. Sometimes you took a punt on something just because you read a good review in the NME or Melody Maker - you couldn't search on bandcamp, soundcloud, YouTube or whatever. You had to hunt and you had to build an element of trust in labels, DJ's and journalists. 

The late great John Peel

Peel could certainly play some weird shit. But he also played some good shit, some interesting shit and some great shit. Most people trusted his taste and passion - they knew he would come up with the goods.

So back to the Fanclub Peel session. It was recorded on 28/08/90 and aired on 30/09/90, later released on a 12-inch by the marvellous Strange Fruit Records, a label formed by Peel and his friend Clive Selwood to release the incredible catalogue of sessions in the BBC archives.

TFC circa 1990

The warm guitars that usher in God Knows It's True are like a cuddle from your best friend and the  rhythms are spliced and spiced with delicious fuzzy riffs throughout. Much of the joy that this song offers comes from the fact that it sounds like the band are really into it, really feeling it. The Peel Session version is superior (in my opinion) to the original version - just listen to Brendan's ferocious drumming after the second chorus - is it a guitar solo or a drum solo? Its both combined and the Fannies make a gorgeous racket.

The Fanclub were prolific back in 1990; releasing several singles (including debut Everything Flows), debut LP A Catholic Education and they also released the God Knows It's True EP - essentially (for me) a double-a-side with So Far Gone for the 7-inch, padded out with a couple of crazier tunes more suited to The King LP.

So Far Gone is classic Gerry Love, the song bursts into life with Brendan O'Hare's drumming as furious as the duelling guitars.

Could you be the one, the one to turn me into something new?

And the chorus

So far gone, so far gone
I'd love to turn you on

It's a little over 3-minutes of flowing punky guitar pop brilliance. The energy on the Peel session is captured perfectly on vinyl for prosperity. Oh how I would have loved to have seen TFC back in August 1990. This is what they sounded like live - fun, ferocious and brilliant.

One of the beautiful things about the Peel Sessions EP is that it catches the band at an incredible moment - when they have just released their debut album and are brimming with confidence and songs - all written for Bandwagonesque, or for b-sides and EP's.

Alcoholiday is one of my all-time favourite Fanclub songs. The Peel session version again captures the glorious noise Blake, McGinley, Love and O'Hare could create. Driving guitars, furious drumming and innocent lyrics.

There are things I want to do
But I don't know if they will be with you

The Peel session version ends with the closing mantra fading out. I wonder how long they actually went on for in the session. Does an extended version exist anywhere?

All I know, is all I know
What I've done I'll leave behind me
I don't want my soul to find me

The EP closes with Long Hair, another of my all-time favourite Fanclub songs, tucked away on the b-side of The Concept. I just love the whole feel and flow to this Gerry Love number. The band fly through it, sounding super tight; rhythm, lead, bass and drums. It is a joy to listen to this EP again - I hope you enjoy it too.

I believe in everything I see
Why believe in everything you hear?




Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 14

 My Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify is now approaching 300 songs. I add to the playlist every month and then round up the latest additions in a blog.

As someone who vowed never to use Spotify or a streaming service, I have to admit I'm a convert! I still love and buy vinyl, but the ease of access that Spotify offers is unarguably incredible.

So after reading Johnny Marr's autobiography and wanting to dig into The The, all I had to do was search on Spotify and I discovered 2 absolutely sublime 12-inch remixes of Uncertain Smile and Perfect. They are sensational.

Elsewhere on the latest additions to the Never Ending Mixtape we have some real heavyweights like T-Rex, Bowie and Lou Reed, cult heroes Big Star and Gram Parson's Flying Burrito Brothers and this must be the only mixtape to have 2 Groove Armada tunes sandwiched between one by Todd Rundgren and an R.E.M demo!

You can search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify and play from the start, delve in anywhere, play on Shuffle or scroll to the end for the latest addition. Or simply CLICK HERE


Association - Teenage Fanclub
Uncertain Smile (12-inch remix) - The The
Perfect (12-inch remix) - The The
Our Lips Are Sealed - Fun Boy Three
Together In Electric Dreams - The Human League
Cosmic Dancer - T-Rex
Life's A Gas - T-Rex
Sound and Vision - David Bowie
Queen Bitch - David Bowie
Space Oddity - David Bowie
I'm So Free - Lou Reed
I Love You - Lou Reed
In The Street - Big Star
Thirteen - Big Star
September Gurls - Big Star
Hot Burrito #2 - The Flying Burrito Brothers
My Back Pages - The Byrds
Chestnut Mare - The Byrds
I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better - The Byrds
Another Girl, Another Planet - The Only Ones
Couldn't I Just Tell You - Todd Rundgren
At The River - Groove Armada
If Everybody Looked The Same - Groove Armada
Mike's Pop Song (demo) - R.E.M
Nightswimming - R.E.M