Friday, 25 May 2007

See you soon...

I'm sorry but time has beaten me and I couldn't get my Friday post done. I will be back around Tuesday 5th June. Please check back then.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Without a f***ing care




I haven’t blogged since last Thursday so let’s get the apologies out of the way first. I’ve been busy with routine family stuff and preparing for a short holiday next week. I’m hoping to do a couple of posts this week but I’m pushed for time so don’t expect expansive prose. If there’s enough bandwidth left I will leave you some treats on Friday to last you all the following week.

Today for the first time I will feature both sides of a single. Pull To Bits, the b-side of Siouxsie & The Banshees’ 1979 Playground Twist single, compliments the A-side perfectly. I considered posting it as a classic b-side but the songs deserve to be heard together. Playground Twist is a nice digital copy from the Once Upon A Time CD. Pull to Bits is a vinyl rip from the original single. Remember this is Siouxsie & the Banshees so don’t expect a barrel of laughs.
Buy Siouxsie stuff here

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Deep Joy


If you live in the UK I can recommend the Sun today – now there’s a sentence I never thought I would write! The reason is they are giving away a DVD of Carry On Regardless which features several scenes with the great Stanley Unwin, a personal hero of mine. I have been in awe of the way he can speak apparent gibberish and still make sense since I first saw him when I was a kid.

For anyone not familiar with Unwinese the entry in Wikipedia has a good concise description:

Unwinese, also known as "Basic Engly Twentyfido", was a special, ornamented and mangled form of English in which many of the words were corrupted in a playful and humorous way. Unwin’s performances could be hilarious yet disorientating although the meaning and context were always conveyed in a disguised and picturesque style.

Very good, but the real fun is in hearing it, so today with deep joy I present a track from the classic Small Faces rotatey disker Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, featuring narration by Unwin.
There’s a good Stanley Unwin site with audio clips here

Buy Ogden’s here

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Remembrance Day

b-movie were one of the many bands featured on the Some Bizarre Album in 1981. I can’t remember if their track was any good because I foolishly lent it to some-one about 20 years ago and I haven’t seen it (or her) since.

Things looked promising for them at first with the release of Remembrance Day, their excellent debut single, which reached No 61 in the UK chart. I always liked the combination of catchy tune and gloomy lyric. The disappointing follow-up Marilyn Dreams failed to build on this. I will feature it on a future post but to be honest I’ve got much better records to digitise first. A year later they released Nowhere Girl (another song for a future post) which really should have been their breakthrough single but for some reason it never happened for them.

Here for your listening pleasure is Remembrance Day and if by any chance you know a girl with a lisp called Annette (well I suppose she’ll be 40-something now) ask her if she’s got Mick’s Some Bizarre Album.

b-movie - Remembrance Day (mp3)

Monday, 14 May 2007

and finally...


This post should have been published on Saturday but real life keeps getting in the way of blogging.

It’s time to put the Japan/YMO related stuff to bed (for now at least) with a couple of tracks that also feature Bill Nelson.

Glow World, from Bill Nelson’s Chimera album (1983), features Mick Karn on bass and Yukihiro Takahashi on drums. The concept behind most of the tracks on this album was for Bill Nelson to compose songs around drum patterns supplied by Yukihiro Takahashi. This one is particularly interesting because he throws in a couple of awkward time changes for Bill to deal with.

Helpless, from Yukihiro Takahashi’s Wild & Moody (1984) album, is a cover of the old Neil Young song with Bill Nelson featured on vocals and guitar.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Steve Jansen and Yukihiro Takahashi

Would you believe it? More Japan and YMO related music.

These two tracks are taken from a 1986 12-inch single by Steve Jansen and Yukihiro Takahashi, both drummers in their respective bands. As I remember it I wasn’t aware that they had collaborated but I came across it in a record shop and bought it unheard based on the pedigree of the artists.

Steve Jansen and Yukihiro Takahashi - Stay Close
Musically it wouldn’t sound out of place on Bill Nelson’s Getting The Holy Ghost across album which I always felt had a sort of uptempo Japan feel. I don’t know who took singing duties but there’s certainly a David Sylvian vibe.

Steve Jansen and Yukihiro Takahashi - Betsu-Ni
Rather than just remove the vocals and put an instrumental version on the B-side, as was the custom, the boys gave us another good song so I’ve included that too.

If you want to investigate more some of their music is available here.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Mick Karn


No surprises today. Three songs from Japan bassist Mick Karn.

First a couple of random Mick Karn memories:

1. I saw Japan on their final tour and as you can imagine there was not a lot of movement on-stage. However, every so often Mick would suddenly glide across the stage at great speed with tiny footsteps. It’s hard to describe but it’s an image that stays with you. Incidentally, I attended this gig with my sister, my girlfriend and two of her friends, some of whom only wanted to swoon at “the world’s most beautiful man” (apparently that was David Sylvian, not me). In fact, exactly the audience the band were keen to get away from.

2. I remember Mick Karn sitting next to the great Dave Gilmour on Pop Quiz and either Mick is tiny or Dave is huge (probably a bit of both).

Sensitive is actually one of my top 5 lost classics from the eighties. We all knew he could play bass a bit (and his fretless bass is well up in the mix here) but could he sing? On the evidence of this single he had quite a sweet voice perfectly suited to the song.


Create and Melt is from his one-off collaboration with Bowie impersonator Pete Murphy. The Waking Hour by Dali’s Car had a striking cover that looked great as an LP but its effect is inevitably diminished on CD.

By 1987 David Sylvian was guest vocalist on Bouy. I remember being very pleased about this at the time because it was always rumoured that David and Mick had the most difficult relationship in the band.
By Mick Karn here.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

David's New Career

If you read my last two posts you probably guessed where I was going.

David Sylvian & Ryuichi Sakamoto – Forbidden Colours
Or as it says on the sleeve: “The vocal version of the theme from the film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence.” Brilliant!

David Sylvian – Silver Moon
My favourite track from the 1986 Gone To Earth album. The line-up for this track is pretty impressive:

David Sylvian – vocals, keyboards, guitar
Steve Jansen – drums
Ian Maidman – bass
Bill Nelson – guitars
Robert Fripp – solo guitar, frippertronics
B.J. Cole – pedal steel guitar
Mel Collins – soprano sax

I lost track of David Sylvian’s solo career after this but he has released several critically acclaimed albums available here.

Ryuichi Sakamoto also has a large back catalogue available here.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Japan – the effeminate futurists


I had quite a long piece prepared about how listening to Japan now didn’t match my expectations but when I started citing examples it ended up almost sounding like an anti-Japan diatribe. This was not my intention at all and since I decided this blog would never be negative I decided to ditch it. Suffice to say I don’t find some of their moodier and more pretentious material so tolerable these days. Of course, this isn’t particularly surprising because obviously we grow and change but for a while in the eighties my favourite band was Japan, so there’s a slight sense of loss.

On the positive side, there’s still plenty to enjoy from their back catalogue. This being a (mostly) vinyl based blog I’ve chosen a couple of songs from 12-inch singles that, as far as I know, are not currently available on CD.

In Vogue is from a 12-inch EP called Live in Japan. This looks like a Japanese import but the record says it was made in Germany. The full track list is:
Side A
1. Deviation
2. Obscure Alternatives
Side B
1. In Vogue (mp3)
2. Sometimes I Feel So Low

The next few posts will feature various Japan related solo projects. You may see some connections with yesterday’s post.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Band's Eye View




Today I’m featuring legendary Japanese band Yellow Magic Orchestra (Haruomi Hosono, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Yukihiro Takahashi).


Technopolis is originally from their 1979 album Solid State Survivor. Connection is from drummer Yukihiro Takahashi’s third solo album Neuromantic.


These samples are taken from Band’s Eye View, a 1982 sampler from weekly music paper Sounds featuring six tracks from the Japanese artists who just happened to be signed to CBS/Epic in the UK.


The full track list is:

Side One
1. Yellow Magic Orchestra – Technopolis
2. Sandii & The Sunsetz – Zoot Kook
3. Ippu Do – Listen To Me

Side Two
1. Sandii & TheSunsetz – Heat Scale
2. Yukihiro Takahashi – Connection
3. Susan – Nuit De Saint-Germain


Friday, 4 May 2007

The OTHER Clint Eastwood...




Just time for a quick update this afternoon.
Flicking through the latest edition of Mojo at my local newsagent this morning* I noticed that Stop That Train by Clint Eastwood & General Saint has been re-issued. In the 80’s the title track was a favourite at one of our local night clubs. It’s been out of print for some time so I had intended to feature it as a relatively rare track on a future blog. Instead, consider this a slightly scratchy sampler for the re-issue.
*I gave up automatically buying it when it went over the £4 mark. Hint to Mojo: ditch the “free” CD and drop the price.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

TV21


TV21 were a short lived Edinburgh band named after an old comic that featured comic strips of Gerry Anderson shows. I’ve always considered their final single, All Join Hands, to be a bit of a lost gem. It seems however that the band don’t agree with me. In an interview from 1991 (which you can read here) singer Norman Rodger describes it merely as OK and blames record company interference, while the interviewer describes it as ghastly. Both seem to agree it was not a fitting swansong especially compared to their previous output. I can’t comment on that because this was the only TV21 song I had heard until I discovered their myspace site today. The songs featured there certainly don’t sound like the same band.

My conclusion is if you hear All Join Hands with no pre-conceptions it’s a fine product of its era. Judge for yourself.

The line-up for this single is:
Neil E Baldwin - bass guitar/backing vocals
David B Hampton - piano/backing vocals
Alistair T Palmer - acoustic guitar/backing vocals
Alasdair J Paterson - drums/percussion/backing vocals
Norman W Rodger - acoustic guitar/lead & backing vocals

Drum machine rhythms - N Rodger/A Palmer/A Paterson
Sequencer - Michael Howlett

The Cannizaro Strings
Charlotte Buchanan – violin
Judith Herbert - Cello

TV21 - All Join Hands(mp3)

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Bethnal


Back in the mid 70’s Bethnal played in the small west country town I grew up in. I didn’t actually see them (I was too young for pubs) but I heard good things so I took a gamble on this record a couple of years later. It’s a good example of late 70’s new wave. I could probably do without the “Someday you’re gonna need me…” spoken part but it doesn’t ruin the song and I suppose it adds period charm.

The band, from the Bethnal Green area of London (but you guessed that) made two albums, Dangerous Times and Crash Landing, but never made it big. It seems to me that there with so many punk and new wave bands around in the late 70’s some good ones were bound to slip through the net and not get the success they deserved. From what I’ve heard Bethnal could be one of them. The up side is that there are still a lot of records like this to be discovered.


mp3: Bethnal - Don't Do It (1978)

As far as I know their stuff is not available on CD so I guess you should try Ebay.