Thursday, 28 June 2007
This is a wonderful forgotten b-side from the early eighties prince of Rock n' Roll Shakin' Stevens (if you've read before you'll know I've been a fan since the early days). The single Shirley reached number 6 in the UK in 1982. The b-side, 'I'm For You' is a great song.
Its funny when you think about how many songs Shakin Stevens sang about girls. Of the top of my head I remember Oh Julie, Shirely, Vanessa, Marie Marie, Jenny Jenny, Justine, Ruby Baby, Hey Mae, Mona Lisa, Josephine, Sapphire, Jezebel... Anyway, check out I'm For You below. I'll take a better photo of the cover of the single and put it up next week.
I first heard of Brian in 1990 when he released the wonderful single 'Captured'. I rushed out to buy his first album 'War of Words', unusual in that every song is a classic, no filler in sight. He then spent a few years as part of the group Sweet Mouth (with Mark E. Nevin, formerly of Fairground Attraction) and released a great album Goodbye to Songtown in 1991, before finally going on to release his second album in 1996 entitled 'A Better Man'.
He spent 6 years as part of Van Morrison's Blues and Soul World Tour also appearing on Van's albums Days Like This, The Healing Game, Back on Top and others. He does a great version of Van's 'Crazy Love' on the soundtrack to the movie 'When a Man Loves a Woman'.
Latter he became the lead singer in the celebrated Riverdance on Broadway show at the Gershwin Theatre, New York, beginning in March 2000, and in 2006 he represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Brian has also written two best selling novels and presented two TV series on the BBC about traditional Irish songs (from which he released 2 albums) and two novels The Arrival of Fergal Flynn, a bestseller in Ireland, and Roman Song, to widespread positive acclaim.
Singer songwriter, novelist, tv and radio presenter, collaborator with Van Morrison, Sinead O'Connor, etc, Brian is a real all-rounder! But why is he not a hugely successful international star.
Its seems strange that he would agree to enter the Eurovision. Its not exactly the most image enhancing strategy but then again his explanation for why he did it seem more than admirable. He says that he couldn't think of a better honour them being chosen to represent his country on an international stage. Fair enough.
Brian was the first to release 'You raise me up' with Secret Garden (which was later recorded by more than 470 artists around the world). This song was later very successful for a number of artists on both sides of the Atlantic (Westlife and Josh Groban), but I think you'll agree once you hear it, that Brian's version was the first and best of this song.
There are so many classic Brian Kennedy songs that its difficult to choose. Have a listen to these and go and go out and pass the word.
Below you'll find a couple of videos of Brian, one with him singing the first public performance of 'You raise me up' and one of him singing live in concert with Van Morrison.
You raise me up
Brian Kennedy singing with Van Morrison in concert.
Brian Kennedy singing 'You raise me up'.
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
Fiction Factory are often mentioned on 1980's blogs, mostly referring to their one big hit 'Feels Like Heaven' (lyrics here) which reached number 6 in the UK in 1984, but one of my favorite songs by them is a b-side from later single Ghost of Love (which only got to number 64 on the UK Top 100!).
The Other Side of Grey (direct from vinyl)
Fiction factory released 2 albums, Throw the Warped Wheel Out (1984) which is well worth searching for in second hand record shops, especially if you can find it with the free 12 single, and Another Story (1985), all pictured below. Click on the image to see the album track details on the back covers.
If you think that Captain Sensible's cover of Happy Talk was one of the weirdest but enchanting novelty records of the early 80`s (1982) then you'll love the b-side of the same record, 'I can't stand it'. the Captain had a short run of fun hits (You'll find some of them on on his myspace site) like Happy Talk, Wot?, Glad It's All Over and Croydon with his bunch of Dollymixture.
I can't stand it (from vinyl record)
Tuesday, 26 June 2007
Thinking about the same show, Does anyone have the video of Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats on the Late Late Show (RTE) when Geldof told Byrne that they were going to be huge and have a number one record etc, to the utter contempt of Gay Byrne? I haven't found it on YouTube
Maybe the BBC doesn't show the parts of the festival that people really go there for year in and year out (maybe lots of sex in tents or drinking beer all weekend???). Maybe there's a lot more besides the huge mainstage concerts.
And the toilets looked appalling. I can hardly piss in a pub when surrounded by other pissing men (stage fright), imagine having a crap in one of those plastic sheds! Then again, the toilet is probably the only place you can sit down during the whole event.
Glastonbury watched from the comfort of your own arm chair isn't too bad, some of the sets are decent. I particularly liked Editors, Jamie T and the second Amy Winehouse set. Glastonbury real-life just makes me feel cold, wet, aching, tired and miserable.
I'm booking a front row seat in my sitting room for next year's concert (and there are no ticket touts in my house!). Then again, if it wasn't for all these crazy people, there would be no BBC coverage cause there wouldn't be a festival. Thanks Glastonbury goers!
Here's a record I came across in a dark and dusty back room of a music shop in Tarragona, Spain. This is a spanish release of a classic eighties album on survival records. The shop where I found it has now closed down (like so many more). They had stacks of vinyl albums left over from the 80's and early 90's, most of them in quite good condition, and most of them by groups I have never even heard of. 'PLAY' is a typical example. They say that you should never judge a book (or a record) by its cover, but I don't always agree. I've come across some great music based on the cover and the release date.
A little research on the net has helped me gather the following information on the band:
- Members: Wayne Kennedy & David Rome
- Red Movies Survival (SUR B1)/Canyon
A1. Red Movie
A2. Erase the Memory
A3. Deeper than Blue
A4. This little Girl
B1. Chasing the Sun
B2. You don't look the same
B3. In my Mind
- Red Movies Survival (SUR B1)/Canyon
- Chasing The Sun  7" Single; Survival (SUR 7 008)
- Chasing The Sun c/w This Little Girl, Deeper Than Blue  12" Single; Survial (SUR 12 008)
- You Don't Look The Same c/w Erasue The Memory / You Don't Look The Same (De-Mix)  7" Single; Survival (SUR 7 015)
- You Don't Look The Same c/w Erasue The Memory  12" Single; Survival (SUR 12 015)
- In My Mind c/w Red Movies / In My Mind (Remix)  12" Single; Survival (SUR 12 022)
Does anyone else know anything about this band?
I recommend it for fans of early eighties electronic, new romantic music!
Erase the Memory
Deeper Than Blue
This Little Girl
Chasing the Sun
You Don't Look the Same
In My Mind
You Don't Look the Same (De-mix)
In my Mind (Remix)
You'll find a post about them on Systems of Romance here
Thursday, 14 June 2007
Have a look at the two album covers. You'd never guess they were from the same band. Here we have Maxïmo Parks first two LPs. I love the first album cover. The movement in the image is wonderful. It captures perfectly the awkward dance of their lead singer. The second cover does zero for me. Its dull, grey and boring. It says nothing about the band, their music or their lyrics. .... Anyway, the second album is really excellent and despite the poor reviews in Q and Mojo, its well worth a listen!
Wednesday, 13 June 2007
I recently came across a fan website dedicated to the band. Its worth checking out cause there's very little about this band on the Internet. You'll also find some more info here and a May 2006 interview with ex-fingerprintz and The Silencers Jimme O'Neill.
Recorded direct from vinyl with crackles included free!
(There's a problem with my filehoster but it should be sorted soon)
I just love the sight of a turntable. I don't know what it is. Some people like old radios or antique furniture. Turntables do it for me. I have four of them at home. How about this for urban art? I copied the photos from the web a while back but I can't remember where. Its a street in Germany as far as I remember.
Anyway, after about 15 years wait, I finally received the new Shakin Stevens album, Now Listen, in the post and having listened to it for a week in the car to and from work, my verdict is shay is, as ever, best at reworking old hit songs.
The best two songs on the album are songs whose original versions I don't even like, have never bought or even downloaded. Ever since I first heard Shaky singing 'This Ole House' back in '81 I've always though the same. He's really good at taking a good tune, made a hit by someone else some years earlier, and reworking it in his own unmistakeable style. On this album he continues to do this with 'Got my mind set on you' originally by the Travelling Wilburys and 'Trouble' originally a hit for Pink.
Its quite a good album, although I'm not sure why its taken so long. It does represent a progression for the artist himself, but there's nothing new or contemporary. Many of the guitar-heavy tracks sound like eighties Dire Straits (its not as bad as it sounds). It good to listen to while driving but I'm not so sure I'll still have it in the car in a month's time.
The standout track for me is:
Got my mind set on you - Shakin Stevens
Wednesday, 6 June 2007
You've read all the reviews in the music magazines and they're all really positive. It sounds just like the type of thing that you'll love. You see it reviewed on someone else's blog who has similar tastes to your own and they absolutely love it. And then you come across it in your favorite record shop. It must be good if they’ve got it here. You love the cover design. But you haven't heard any of it yet.... Oh shit, I'll buy it. It has to be excellent. I'll love it. The new discovery of the month.
And then you play it and you think ?oh, I didn't expect that'. You hate it.
Maybe the next song will be better. It's not.
Maybe its a slow burner, a slow grower. I should play it a few times. The better albums are always the 'growers' not the instantly catchy.
I still don't like it.
The lyrics sound weak. Maybe I don't understand them.
Maybe if I put it on in the background while I work. A few more listens and I'll love it.
I don't like it. Can I have my money back please?
Case in point. Patrick Wolf - Wind in the Wires.
I've had a subscription to Q since June 1998, with Word since September 2006 and with Mojo since March of this year. I didn't discover Word until last year because it’s not distributed around here. I've purchased Mojo on and off for a few years but only when I like the month's contents. I purchased the Mojo subscription because they had a really good deal (12 issues, 3 Beatles special issues + Beatles DVD for 39 sterling. I would have spent more on buying a few individual issues during the year so I went for the subscription - only to find that the 3 Beatles special issues had been combined into a book which I had been given as a present for Christmas, aaaaargh!).
I'm not a great fan of Mojo because I'm simply not of the target market they are aiming at, i.e. music fans born before 1960, mostly into 60s and 70s. Mojo is for the big brothers or parents of Q readers.
Although I've bought Q for nearly 10 years without missing an issue, it often fails to deliver. I'm so sick and tired of their lists. This month its 'The 10 Most Insane Albums Ever'. They're really scraping the end of the barrel. In the last few months we've had:
The 100 greatest singers and their 1000 greatest songs
100 ways to get music free (very lame)
The 500 greatest lost tracks
The 100 Greatest songs
115 records its okay to love
50 Anthems for summer
20 Greatest live albums
50 worst albums ever
Mojo also does these silly lists. This month its '100 records that changed the world'. A few months back we got '50 albums that launched a quiet riot'. Oh come on. Both Mojo and Q are produced by the same company and the similarities are obvious.
I should point out that Mojo's monthly list of recommended music retailers is badly out of date. I check out all the web sites on the list and about 70% of them don't exist anymore (if they ever did).
Q has a star rating system for its album reviews. I like the fact that I can get a quick idea of a wide range of new stuff (and then look for more in-depth reviews of those releases that interest me more from another source) but recently they've gone a bit mad and are handing out stars all over the place (awarding both Razorlight and Muse the maximum 5 star classic album rating in the same month!).
I'm not too gone on Q's interviews either. They tend to get privileged access to many of the musicians they interview (often meeting on a number occasions for the one interview) but the analysis rarely goes very deep and they often fail to ask the important questions, instead often relying on how the interviewer interprets the interviewee's body language.
Q is very much a music magazine for the 90s music fan, who thinks the 80's were shite for music, and who wants to keep up with what's going on at the moment, but knows that no one will match heyday Oasis and/or Radiohead.
But still I'll continue my subscription and I look forward to having a read of Q while sitting on the bog or waiting at the dentists.
Although I've only read Word since last September (although I've ordered a few back issues since then) I'm really impressed. Its free cover CDs are well worth listening to every month. Its got a small business/cottage industry feeling to it. You can imagine there being only about 6 of them putting the magazine together in a small dusty office, with large stereo system and reliable coffee machine and all 6 of them going mental to finish it on time every month.
The don't have a star-rating system for their album reviews. This took a while to get used to as I was used to Q's quick and to the point star-system (also used by Mojo and Uncut magazine). Word often reviews 2 or 3 albums together in the same review and finds the common link between them. Their reviews are never predictable and seldom biased. Their interviews are interesting and varied.
The only thing that bugs me about Word is the lack of a spell-checker. They need to employ someone with an eye for detail to read the whole magazine and fix any spellings and delete any extra words (and, or, even, an, etc) before going to press. It’s a small thing but it interrupts the flow of what otherwise is a great music magazine.(By the way I don’t have an eye for detail and so excuse the typos). In fact, for once I agree with the slogan 'More than a music magazine'. Word also reports on non-music topics and generally tends to identity the type of non-music subjects that music magazine readers will want to know about.
So, so far, it has to be Word, but I won't be canceling my Q subscription for the meantime, its still a good second best. On an interesting note, the main players in Word magazine (David Hpeworth and Mark Ellen - I remember wtaching them on the Whistle Test in the 80's) were the very individuals who set up and launched Q and Mojo. And their reviews editor (Paul Du Noyer) is also a former editr of Q and Mojo. So there.
By the way, as for NME, I'd buy it to fill the time before getting on a train or plane but I usually end up reading less than half the content.
According to the official website this new album represents a "distinct progression in Steven's career", with "strong country rock and blues influences". The title track and first single was co-written by Stevens, Tim Woodcock (poor kid) and Cliff Masterson. I get the feeling that instead of working on the song together, each one wrote their separate part. The chorus sounds very typically Shakin Stevens, while the verse was surely written by one of the other co-writers. Each time I hear the chorus I feel like I've heard it before. It sounds like an old Shaky tune. Here's the video so you can judge for yourselves.
Tuesday, 5 June 2007
Shakin' Stevens was my first ever concert, in June 1981. I went along with my two aunts and my older brother, who was into the Boomtown Rats, Sex Pistols, Clash etc., so he wasn't very impressed. Anway, I was hooked right from the beginning and couldn't wait to buy his album, 'Shaky', which I still regard as a classic pop record and listen to regularly.
I bought all his singles, despite the ridicule of my classmates until about 1985 when I was well over my obsession and lost interest as Shaky moved into his wooly jumper period. A few years later when I started earning I bought up his remaining records in order to complete my collection, and I still keep an eye on an unofficial, but very informative, fan web site called Forevershakin. They organise a couple of Shaky Partys every year and put the (hilarious) photos up on the website. They all look like a bunch of late 30 year olds (more like going on 40) that are stuck firmly back in the eighties, dancing their bendy leg dances at a school disco. But I can't help thinking that I would have a great laugh if I went along.
His official website is really crap, poorly designed and very seldom updated. In recent years, in the interviews I've read, I can't help getting the feeling that the man, Shakin Stevens, feels slightly embarrassed about some aspects of his past, particularly targeting the Saturday morning kids TV market. Nowadays he promotes his music as country rockin' blues and says that he has moved on. Fair enough but most of his fans still want the denims, black shirt and white shoes Shaky that they love.
So here it is at last, the album ‘Now Listen’ just released in
Anyway, I’ll post a review of the album as soon as it arrives and I’ve had time to hear it. Can’t wait!!
From January 1982, aged 12, I started keeping my own personal (trainspotter) music charts, until May 1984. I eventually filled three hard-back note books, stapled them together and covers them with a Culture Club poster (probably from Smash Hits or No.1 magazine).
I thought of putting this on the blog when I read on Word Magazine website abour Jem would kept a record diary of records he bought and concerts he attended from 1980-84.
Here's my top twenty (above) for June 10th 1983. Wham number 1 with Bad Boys, Kajagoogoo at 2 with 'Hang on Now' and the Police at 3 with Every Breath You Take. Its funny to think that both the Police and George Michael are back on live circuit after so many years.
I was (and still am) a major fan of pop music. I was heavily into Shakin Stevens at the time (he's due a new album since last September but no one knows what the delay is and it keeps getting put back...oh but you don't care about that, do you?).
Anyway, this was such a great period for quality pop music that I eventually kept a Top 40, a Top 5 bubbling under hotshots and a Top 10 video chart. I taped most of the stuff off the radio and religiously compiled the new list every Friday evening after school and then listened to each song in order. On Satuardays I would give my mother a list of 3 or four singles and ask her to buy which ever one she could find in picture sleeve. I rarely bought albums cause I couldn't get the 5 or 6 quid price together at once.
So did you see the 40th anniversary tribute to Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band on the BBC the other night? The groups who took part include:
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Bryan Adams
With A Little Help From My Friends - Razorlight
Fixing a Hole - The Fray
She's Leaving Home - The Magic Numbers
Getting Better - Kaiser Chiefs
All of them were given the chance/challenge to cover the original songs, using the orginal 4-track technology with the original sound engineer Geoff Emerick . It was avery interesting program, especially to see how some of the groups struggled. For the Kaiser Chiefs it seemd like a very humbling experience, although the finished version of Getting Better came together in the end.
Surprisingly enough my pics of the best are by artisits that I don't normally like and whose music I have never bought, Bryan Adams and The Fray. The drummer from Razorlight did a good job. I was actually looking forward to seeing the singer Johnny Borrell being interviewed as the music press make him out to be a major ego. I was hoing to see for myself how he is but the group decided that seeing as Ringo Starr sang the original 'With A Little Help From My Friends' then the Razorlight drummer should do the same.
The only version that I didn't like was Magic Numbers attempt at 'She's Leaving Home'. It sounded horrible, very nazzel. Their voices just didn't suit it. By the way, one of the guys was missing. Are they down to 3? Or he just didn't have a good day?
Well, here's what I'm listening to at the moment. I haven't changed much since I first started buyng records aged 11. Instead of covering my walls with posters, these days I hang the album covers of the music I'm listening to. Its bloody great being able to buy vinyl again of most of the albums I'm looking for. There was a 10 year period from about 91 to 2001 when you just couldn't buy vinyl but over the last few years there's been a major vinyl revival. I used to mostly buy second stuff from the 70's and 80's but nowadays most of the releases I look for I can get on plastic. And if not then I usually end up downloading the album instead of buying it on CD.
On my wall this month:
Joan As Policewoman - Real Life
Joanna Newsom & The YS Street Band E.P
Single - Pío Pío
Artic Monkeys - Favorite Worst Nightmare
Maximo Park - Our Earthly Pleasures
Katerine - Robots Aprés Tout
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Mark Ronson - Version
The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
Sunday, 3 June 2007
Amy Winehouses Back to Black finally gets its vinyl release this week. I've been listening to it on mp3 for ages and was about to fork out the money for the CD until I saw it advertised on the UK HMV site.
But the best winehouse track I've heard isn't even on this album. Its her version of Valerie by the Zutons on the Mark Ronson 'Versions' album. When I originally heard the Zutons track it did nothing for me. Yet the Winehouse version is the standout track on 'Versions'.
Valerie - Amy Winehouse
Anyway, I also got to see a bit more of the Bowie film ‘Cracked Actor’. I taped it off the BBC last week and have been watching it in bits, whenever I get a chance when my daughter is having an afternoon nap (she’s 8 months). Bowie looks so cool all the time. He still does even in 2007. And I love to watch him perform but I was never really into sitting at home listening to his music. I think its because he’s so visual that the music alone isn’t enough, for me. I know that any fan of Bowie will think that’s rubbish, but I’ve tried to listen to a full album of his and I get a bit edgy after about 20 minutes, not bored, just restless, I just would prefer to watch a DVD of a Bowie concert. That’s weird cause usually if I buy a concert film I end up watching it once and then forgetting about it. I‘ve never seen U2 in concert so I’ve bought a couple of their live DVDs. They’re fine to watch once, twice at most.
I like Paul McCartney. I’ve liked him since I bought Tug of War in the early eighties a young kid in
I know many people find him really annoying. My brother and his wife can’t stand him, switch channels when he comes on TV. But, I don’t really understand why. Maybe his ‘thumbs up’ positive attitude gets on people’s wick.
There’s a photo of Paul on the back of one of his albums which I just love. I must dig out the album and post the photo….hang on….I love that photo. I'veposted in above. Its from the back of he McCartney (1970) album. For me its such a wonderful image of family. And I like how he was so crazy about his wife that he found a place for her in Wings so that they could be together all the time. Brilliant. And how he never liked to spend nights away from his wife. And after so many years he’s still writing really cool music. Maybe not all the songs on the new album are great, I haven’t listened to it enough to give a verdict but the standout tracks are:
Ever Present Past
See Your Sunshine (very much a ‘Tug of War’ era sound)
That Was Me
Well it looks like I won’t be able to buy the new album ‘Memory Almost Full’ on vinyl (couldn’t help thinking ‘Battery Almost Empty’ when I first heard it, but a few listens in I’m beginning to love it).As reported all over the place, he’s releasing it with the new Starbucks label (very weird decision given the anti-starbucks sentiment) so I’m not sure of the chances of a release on vinyl. I’ve checked the usual sites (Amazon, HMV, eBay but no luck there). Lets wait and see what happens.