Alternative music reviews

March 4, 2007

A Clear Out

Filed under: nostalgia,ramblings — @ 10:16 pm Comments (3)

I have spent the past week clearing out my old house. I came across three big boxes of records covering the 70s to the 90s. Now, the problem is that I really don’t have much space where I am living now (just one room) and I already have a lot of records there (and CDs and computers). I was planning to take the records anyway but suddenly this morning I decided to have a serious clear out and to only take the records I couldn’t live without.

Firstly, I chose to keep all of the 7″ singes + most of the 12″ – they were conveniently in one box anyway. Out of the two boxes (about 150 records) I only picked these out:

Lovers Of Today – The Only Ones
Crazy About Love – Wire
IV Songs – In Camera
Tristan et Iseult – Christian Vander
Peel Sessions – The Only Ones
I Suppose – Puressence
The Stooges – The Stooges
Fun House – The Stooges

I challenge anyone to find a connection between that lot.

I drove down the Tip struggling with my conscience. There were plenty of records that are just not available on CD and probably never will be. I had serious regrets about all of my Foetus records and also (surprisingly myself) my Sidi Bou Said.

I feel awful.

February 7, 2007

A Defining Moment

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 9:05 pm Comments (0)

Ziggy StardustOn Thursday 13th July 1972 I bought a copy of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars. I took it home and put it the mono ‘Dansette’ type of record player. As the album played the sky darkened ominously and by side two the rain was falling heavily. There are still traces in me of the impact the album made. Although I rarely listen to it, I still get slight shivers, a tingling of the skin like that caused by static electricity, when I hear those songs again and can instantly recall the time and place of that first listening.

I was thirteen years old and I had found my music. It set me on a path that lead to Bowie’s associates and influences, namely The Velvet Underground and Iggy Pop. Perhaps I now regard those influences as more important to me, but it was Bowie who started it all. And from then on the word Camp would no longer be first associated with Scouting in my head.

December 23, 2006

Patrik Fitzgerald

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 11:18 am Comments (0)

Imagine if you had a garden, held a barbeque and one of your musical heroes played some songs. I need imagine no longer – here it is. I wouldn’t recognise Patrik, apart from the sandals that also featured on the cover of his Grubby Stories debut album, but he still has the voice and the songs take me back to that age of youthful questioning of authority.

I am not going to enlighten you as the importance and wonder of Patrik Fitzgerald but you can read an article/interview with him on 84 Tigers that goes a long way to explaining why he was so vital back in 77-79.

September 28, 2006

Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 12:30 am Comments (0)

This a video of DAF playing their song Der Mussolini. I never saw them live so it is great to see it even if I wonder at the soporific/dumbstruck audience. It demonstrates that nostalgia is what it used to be. I used to dance around my bedsit to this song exactly like the singer back in 1980. No wonder my friends pretended they didn’t know me when I went out.

September 10, 2006

My Leather Jacket

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 10:39 pm Comments (0)

desperate bicycles
It wasn’t my first leather jacket and it wasn’t my last, but it was my definitive leather jacket. It’s origins are shrouded in mystery, I was told it had some connection with the Oxford Hell’s Angels by my mate Killer but who knows. It was ‘lived in’ when I got it and too big for me. This was before the days when leather was distressed in the factory. It’s main function was to be worn while riding my Suzuki Rebel motorbike.

One day, in preparation of a concert by The Cure and Siouxie and The Banshees (when Robert Smith played guitar with the Banshees as well as fronting The Cure – due to the Banshees guitarist being injured), it was modified. Chris, my next door neighbour, painted it to my design: adapted from the Desperate Bicycles cover for their second single The Medium Was Tedium. A words like Pride couldn’t describe how I felt wearing it.

That night at the Coventry Apollo was very hot and sadly was a seated venue (I hate sitting down for live music). It was great music though, and in amongst the humid, electric atmosphere at the end of the Banshees set I went to stand up and applaud with all my might and get them back for an encore. Anyone with experience of Acrylic paint will understand that I had to be prised from my seat by two companions and the jacket would have red fluff from the Apollo seats for many months afterwards.

I’m sure I will talk again about why the Desperate Bicycles were the epitomy of a musical revolution, why there is much work but new opportunities for that revolution, and why the new single by Shut Your Eyes And You’ll Burst Into Flames caused me to recall all of this. Until I write that, I will just remember the leather jacket.

Shut Your Eyes And You’ll Burst Into Flames

June 17, 2006

The Order Of A Record Collection

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 11:44 am Comments (0)

In High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, the main character orders his record collection by the date the record came out. When a girlfriend moves in, she complains that she can’t find anything and re-arranges them alphabetically. When she leaves him, he considers (but I don’t think he actually does) arranging them autobiographically – that is, in the order he bought them.

Talk about seeing a bit of myself in a fictional character! But my record collection order wasn’t as simple as chronological. From the age of 18 to 31 (before a girlfriend moved in and changed the order to alphabetical) I arranged my record collection by the bands relationship to the music of The Velvet Underground. Beginning with the box set From The Seven Days by Stockhausen (mentioned in this blog a little while ago), it went from the experimental classical through Berio and Slovak chamber music. Then into electronic/Kraut Rock like Faust, Can and Amon Duul until you arrived at the first Velvets album. Next were all of the solo projects by Lou Reed, John Cale, and Nico. Following that were Iggy and The Stooges, New York Dolls, and the MC5. Then came the biggest section: the Post Punk alterative music starting with Joy Division, The Fall, Cabaret Voltaire. Although David Bowie had connections with Lou Reed, I placed him at the beginning of the Pop section. Finally on the far right I had one dance record.

Incidentially, now I’ve returned to the feral male state, my record and CD collection is in no order whatsoever. I’m open to suggestions as to how to order things, my current favourite is by the amount of Sonic Distortion, but I can’t decide whether that should take into account the recording quality or not.

June 11, 2006

Musical Snobbery?

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 10:30 pm Comments (1)

I have recently been on Yahoo Answers (hours of pointless fun) and stuck my oar in a few times. One of the questions where I ventured an answer was to the question “Punk Rock Songs: can you name some?”. Obviously I ventured Anarchy In The UK by The Sex Pistols since that was the first Punk Rock song I ever saw on British TV. But what surprised me was some of the other suggestions: My Chemical Romance, Good Charlotte, Violent Femmes (???). Now I can accept The Ramones or even Richard Hell as Punk Rock if you are American – but I don’t seem to be able to accept any recent music as Punk. I would accept Punk Revivalist/Hardcore/Wanky kids Looking For A Marketing Opportunity as a category for music that sounds like Punk.

Punk was such a revolution in The UK but it was a short lived thing. It was an angry shout that self-destructed quickly but completely changed the musical outlook. Alternative TV turned into a bunch of hippies, Adam Ant turned theatrical, Patrik Fitzgerald brought out an album Grubby Stories where he noted that “bondage trousers are sold in Woolworths”. It was over then. End of story.

What it spawned was something very special. Sniffing Glue fanzine published a guide on how to produce your own record, Desperate Bicycles and Scritti Politti included complete cost breakdowns of their singles (“It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it”). Suddenly, you didn’t even need to know how to play an instrument – pick up a guitar, learn three chords, and that was it. The explosion of creativity still reverberates now. It also allowed Rough Trade Records to start and their first 50 singles, for me, include the best 20 singles ever.

What I do want to highlight is a band Swell Maps that took the Punk ideal and throttled it until it begged for mercy. But this is 1979, not 1976/7, so this is not punk but the start of Alternative Music.

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