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Posts Tagged ‘Spinal Tap’

Following on from his misty-eyed reminiscing on the gems of his collection lying somewhere in the farm, Porky continues his detour into Thing-ism, the art of buying stuff that wasn’t entirely tatty.

Read Part 1

Mansun – Attack of the Grey Lantern.

The copy I have is a tin box which had the same cover as the one sold in the high street and this was repeated on the CD itself. As a promo this is a pretty amazing item. I won a copy in a competition organised by the Sheffield Star newspaper. Of course, the idea of housing your product in a metal box wasn’t new by 1997: PiL’s metal box album came just in that, 18 years earlier. I was shocked to see the starting price alone for the Mansun item on eBay.

Easterhouse – Contenders.

As a teenager and into my early 20s I would sometimes swap stuff with mates and in this instance I was enticed by Gav’s copy of Contenders by this Mancunian band who Morrissey had hailed. I didn’t know much about them apart from their left-wing viewpoint (they were aligned to the tiny Revolutionary Communist Party). My mate liked my Lloyd Cole and the Commotions’ second album, and I really liked it too. But I thought I could get that back at a later date. I never did but I do have a copy on cassette, which ain’t the same. Thankfully, Contenders is a classic political album.

Anaemic Boyfriends: Guys Are Not Proud

MacKenzie sings Orbidoig: Ice Cream Factory.

On a trip to north-west England, Porky took a clutch of seven-inch singles that had recently arrived at the sty. These came from a package of new wave singles from a different trader to the one that sent the Neon single (see below). The Anaemic Boyfriends single came without a picture sleeve but the A side, Guys Are Not Proud, is a tantalising song about how lusty men are, but not in an admiring way: “Guys are disgusting, they’re always lusting, Guys are obscene, vile and unclean, Guys are such creeps, they’ll even do it with sheep”. The last line was the killer and got me, Scouse Neil and Da Judge laughing like crazy. Scouse Neil was practically pleading with me to give it to him, but he would have had to anal rape me to get it.

The tables were turned on a future visit to Liverpool when he unveiled an absolute gem by Billy MacKenzie, the lead singer of The Associates, a band I’ve adored since I heard them as a teenager. Under the banner, MacKenzie sings Orbidoig, this 12-inch had the playful Ice Cream Factory which was full of innuendo over a bouncy pop sound. Unlike The Associates’ big hits of that year – 1982, beginning with Party Fears Two – this didn’t intrude into the nation’s consciousness. I heard this and tried in vain to get Neil to give, or sell to me. But I did find a copy later on.

Neon – Bottles 7″

Who are they? To be honest I have no idea and neither Dr Google nor Prof Wikipedia can help me, other than to confuse me by informing me of an Australian band of the mid-90s. This lot were from the late 70s. My friend at sixth form college, Gordon, who wasn’t a moron, put this on the end of a tape for me and I thought I was wonderfully bizarre and overdone. Later, I actually found the single in a bunch of new wave singles sold by a company that sold bulk singles for cheap. You had no idea what was enclosed, but with new wave you could be certain of some good ones. I guess some of these things sell quite well nowadays given the interest in anything from 1977 to about 1983.

Fan club stuff

Before MySpace and online websites, fans would rely on fan clubs, which the record labels would sometimes organise themselves. Some offered very little for the money but some were worth the effort. I was only ever a member of two, The Levellers and House of Love, and both were well catered for as they were run by people who actually liked and were close to the band. Like most fan clubs, these two offered freebies, such as a compilation of offcuts by the Brighton band, which suitably had a cover of various bits of offal, and in the House of Love’s case a cassette that had two rare tracks. The Levellers sent a fabulous A4 magazine, the HoL people would issue lyric sheets and all sorts of bits and pieces.

Spinal Tap: Back from The Dead

Funniest film ever. No argument. Two years ago the original soundtrack was re-released with extra tracks and a DVD, which was groovy enough but there was also the addition of a unique pop-up diorama package that unveiled three 12-inch action figures of the band along with a proportionally-sized Stonehenge. It’s good to see that some record labels still make some effort with a package.

Flying Nun 25 Years boxset

An iconic label in New Zealand, and a cult beyond Aotearoa, Flying Nun is defined by Dunedin and the individual style of the city in the 1980s. The Clean, The Gordons, The Chills, Straitjacket Fits, The Verlaines, The Bats, D4 and the Mint Chicks all released material on Flying Nun. And all of those acts are on here, as well as a glut of largely-forgotten heroes and heroines of the Dunedin and Otago scene … people like Rik Starr, King Loser, Chug, Sombretones, The Victor Dimisch Band, Marie and the Atom and Naked Spots Dance. Much of it groovy, some of it woeful, but this is a fantastic reminder of the influence and charm of the label. This boxset also includes a booklet of artists’ photographs, artwork and scribblings.

The The – Soul Mining tape

In the 80s, a professional footballer would tell a glossy magazine they liked to listen to Wham! or Whitney Houston in between games. One who would have been mocked in the changing rooms for his eclectic tastes was the Scotland and Chelsea winger Pat Nevin, who once listed the Cocteau Twins and Pink Industry among his top 10 in one of the weekly music rags. He also included The The’s Uncertain Smile and I can think of no greater accolade for a band than the thumbs-up from that rarely-spotted species: the footballer with a couple of braincells. In 1986 I was buying a lot of tapes – they were compact and a little cheaper than vinyl. Soul Mining is an absolute classic but at seven tracks was deemed to be too short for American tastes even though most of them stretched to more than five minutes and Giant clocked in at 9:34. So a version of Perfect was added to some versions and the UK cassette version had another five goodies, some of which could well have been on the original line-up. It’s likely that at least one of these tracks was from the discarded Pornography of Despair album.

Read my blog on taping and the mystique of cassettes

 

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Hikoikoi google

 

 

 

 

Who? Hikoikoi

Title: Hikoikoi
Label:
Border Music

Tell me more: New Zealand has a strong tradition of reggae, roots and dub. Over the years, while reggae in its homeland Jamaica and in places like Britain has largely become dancehall, in Aotearoa it remains fairly true to its origins, often insterspersed with soul or even jazz.

Why the fek should I listen to this? Sometimes, modern reggae falls flat because the artist is trying too hard to be faithful to Bob Marley and other legends, or, conversely, they don’t respect the music enough. But Hikoikoi sound like they have mastered their art. Every track hits a high standard, but I will reserve a special mention for Prophetless, as it tackles how the rich are made and sustain their control: “From the profit of poor nations/ You built your foundations/ Leader puppets you employed them/ Leader puppets will destroy them.”

Tena rawa atu koe Eru for allowing me to hear this and Tiki Taane’s remix album, Flux.

Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? As it’s one of the albums of 2009, probably not.

Trivia: Much of Hikoikoi was recorded in an isolated boatshed in Hikoikoi Reserve (where the band took their name) in Petone, north of Wellington.

 


 

 

 

Spinal Tap

 

 

Who? Spinal Tap

Title: Back From The Dead
Label:
The Label Industry

Tell me more: A pumped up to 11 special edition from rock’s most legendary legends. In 1984, the film This Is Spinal Tap was released and it was kinda  popular. This is the soundtrack, updated with six extra songs and reworkings of the others as well as an hour-long DVD featuring the ageing trio explaining the “meanings” of each track and … AND … a pop-up diorama package that unveils three 12-inch action figures along with a pop-up Stonehenge (almost actual size).

Why the fek should I listen to this? From Cups and Cakes to the misogynistic cover of Smell the Glove, the film and its accompanying soundtrack cover the Tap’s gloriously inept career and comeback tour in the USA. Morrissey or Dylan could never have written lyrics such as “My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo/ I’d like to sink her with my pink torpedo”.

Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? Jesus, if you don’t like the album, or the DVD, bin them .. cos it got a pop-up diorama action package! Oh bugger, Nigel Tufnel’s got caught in my shirt sleeve.

Trivia: Early video versions of the film had a special disclaimer inserted at the end stating that the band did not actually exist, for all the very stupid people in the world.

 


 

 

 

Aleks

 

 

 

Who? Aleks and the Ramps

Title: Midnight Believer
Label:
Stomp
Tell me more:
Melbourne five-piece with one album, Pisces vs Aquarius (2007), behind them.

Why the fek should I listen to this? You’re probably familiar with Australia’s greatest musical talents – Rolf Harris, Slim Dusty, Peter Andre, the chap who plays Paul Robinson on Neighbours … but actually there’s some other guys and gals who make records. Among them The Ramps, who have a dark outlook on life (“Reading the result of your autopsy, I could swear that you were watching me”) matched by an equally dark sense of humour. And that comes out in the music on Midnight Believer, a mixture of at times uplifting indie rock, a la Walking the Garden, that has some gloriously disjointed riffs, and more sober moments, notably the first half of Circa 1992 Ideas before it suddenly becomes something of a pop song. Titles such as Destroy the Universe With Jazz Hands suggest they are either far from serious or completely bonkers.

Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? Midnight Believer lacks enough ideas to sustain it for a whole album, and falls flat at certain points. Maybe a mini album may have been more appropriate.

Trivia: Their website lists individual band members functions including: snoring duck, Swiss cheese and extreme wheeze.

 


 

 

 

 

Ido Tavori

 

 

 

Who? Ido Tavori

Title: Rhythm Is A Beggar
Label:
Love Poem records

Tell me more: Tavori, a British-based Israeli, is the founder of Love Poem records, an outlet for experimental, underground music.

Why the fek should I listen to this? Rhythm Is A Beggar expounds upon Tavori’s love of urban underground beats, stirring in lashings of hip-hop, downbeat and electronica. An intriguing 26-minute trawl through a genre that continues to mutate and develop.

Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? There are breaks in this love-in for some hip-hop lyricism which does not quite work on this kind of largely mellow and experimental album.

Trivia: Although the cover names the artist as Ido Tavori, the spine attributes the music to Ido Tavori & friends.

 


 

 

 

 

Undertones

 

 

 

Who? The Undertones

Title: An Anthology
Label:
Salvo

Tell me more: Two-disk trawl through the wonderful career of a wonderful Northern Ireland new wave band of the late 70s/ early 80s era. First disk is of singles, album tracks and b-sides. Second disk live tracks, demos, rehearsals and rough mixes.

Why the fek should I listen to this? Normally I try to avoid best ofs, but given that 27 of the 56 tracks here are from the vaults and there’s plenty of obscurities among the remainder, this is clearly an effort made with love and devotion. Also includes a neat booklet with a history lesson and details of where and when each track was recorded (though sadly not where released). Played to death by DJ John Peel, Teenage Kicks has become the girls and chocolate-fuelled adrenalin anthem for the ‘Tones but they possessed loftier ambitions and subsequently made scores of short bursts of fantastic pop classic. My Perfect Cousin may have been the first top 10 hit to mention table-football game Subbuteo.

Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? I was wary of the outtakes and whatever else they could find bonus disk, but I find the rough-and-ready quality of these straight-from-cassette recordings quite endearing. But I have to take issue with the chronology. Putting debut single Teenage Kicks among later, more seductive, tracks is bemusing. By the early 80s the Undertones had become more soulful, and there’s an ill-fitting feeling to those tracks following or preceeding rip-snorting punk-inspired singles.

Trivia: A reformed Undertones (minus Feargal Sharkey) sometimes play support act to a little-known outfit called Celtic FC at Parkhead these days.

 


 

 

 

Attic Dweller


 


Superbi

 

 

Who? The Beautiful South

Title: Superbi
Label:
Sony BMG

Tell me more: There are far more famous albums by the Beautiful South than this, but I chose this deliberately as it’s one of the latter works from the Hull band, released in 2006, when they’d lost their lustre and ability to sell albums by the vanload. Neither Gaze (2003) nor the collections of cover versions, Golddiggas Headnodders & Pholk Songs (2004) would be described as anything more than average.

Why the fek should I listen to this? Superbi has all the usual elements to a Beautiful South album – tales of lost and lost and the rain in Manchester. The opening track and The Cat Loves The Mouse sound like old South, catchy and captivating.

Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? The South were a pivotal band of the early 1990s but all albums since have struggled to match the brilliance of 0898 or Choke. The same can be said of the country-tinged Superbi but there are several highlights and it does grow after a few listens. Eight months after its release the band split up.

Trivia: In a recruitment drive reminiscent of the Human League signing up two schoolgirls after Phil Oakey saw them dance at a Sheffield disco, Jacqui Abbott was stacking shelves in a supermarket before being enlisted by Paul Heaton after he heard her sing at an after-show party.

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