Ssoooooooooooo PROUD!!!

Anyone remember/notice my comment earlier in the week that Jess was stressing herself into not being able to sleep? There were two reasons for it. First was her flute Bronze Medal Test (a kind of Grade 1 trial run). Well that went well apparently, but she won’t get ANY feedback for at least another couple of weeks, as all exams are marked remotely from a video taken of her performance.

The other event causing her worry was her part in her school club’s entry into a Bradford Schools’ talent competition, known as the Junior Rock Challenge. This was the kinda local-only kid brother to the national senior schools’ Rock Challenge series, which in Bradford takes place at St.Georges Hall. Though there are hints the juniors may get promoted there next year, the fact is this year’s wasn’t a big affair, as the college hosting it could only cope with an audience of around 400, but still …

Anyway, half a dozen local primary schools all put together 5 minute dance interpretations of a chosen topic title [Be Your Best], and performed them to a full house of family members and three judges. The whole thing was properly filmed (so I’m hoping there’s a DVD to come), compered by a local radio DJ, and was actually pretty impressive.


I’ll admit they were helped by pulling the last-on-stage ball out of the pre-show draw hat, but their set was truly excellent. Choreographed by Jess’ ex-cheerleading teacher (& private danceschool owner) Helen Wragg, how on earth the thirty of them got through a performance like that without knocking each other flying is beyond me, let alone delivering a performance that had me absolutely spellbound.

So yeah, I‘m almost as, no, I’m even MORE chuffed than my eldest daughter is, but that’s not actually my main reason for posting this. One of the factors in Shibden Head’s success was the soundtrack they put together for their five minutes, which was so in-yer-face infectious that their ever-so-slightly off-topic interpretation of the theme got past the judges without penalty. Based on a children’s book called Giraffes Can’t Dance, they had a five minute “Jungle” mash-up soundtrack, which was an absolute riot. Well, if I’ve finally got it right, here it is as a musical quiz.

NB – I do NOT, repeat NOT, have a list of artists & titles, so am in no position to issue ‘Spill points, but I figure you lot should be able to identify all of the snippets contained within. Fingers crossed . . .

Besides ……..

……….. No one ever plays the B-Side, do they? So no one cares what it sounds like.

OK, so you have an album out and you’ve picked the killer single, what do you do about that pesky flipside?

There are a few schools of thought;

1) Stick on another album track.
2) Put out something from the back catalogue that no one really likes enough to release on it’s own merits.
3) Use that song that wasn’t good enough for the album itself but is OK really.
4) Put the drummer’s new song on. It will stop him moaning that no one takes his stuff seriously.
5) Do a cover version of something you used to do live before you had a decent set-list.
6) Remix the single and bang that on.
7) Put on a really good song that will be a genuine treasure for the fans.

I suppose that there are other options but these seem to cover most bases, judging by what I’ve heard over the years.

I always liked singles back when they were releases in their own right, not radio fodder for the album’s marketing campaign, but most bands stopped doing that a long, long time ago.

I suppose that Factory, and also Rough Trade, kept on with the stand-alone single for longer than most, it fitted in with the real indie ethos that came out of punk and therefore, they probably kept the genuine B-side alive for longer than a lot of other labels.

Anyway, this is a rag-bag of different songs that in their own ways all fit into the options I’ve mentioned above.

In A Lonely Place was the B-side of New Order’s first single, “Ceremony”

A House Is Not A Motel was on the back of the USA single release of the great “Alone Again Or” by Love.

Dusty backed her single “Son Of A Preacher Man” with Just A Little Lovin’.

The Sundays I Kicked A Boy was the B-Side for “Can’t Be Sure”.

Him Dancing was remixed as the flip for Throwing Muses’ “Not Too Soon” (this though is the album version from “The Real Ramona”)

The Clash remixed “Magnificent Seven” as Magnificent Dance as the B-Side for that one.

Siouxsie and the Banshees put out An Execution as the B-Side for “Cities In Dust”, but left it off the original album release of Tinderbox.

AC/DC stuck another album track, Have A Drink On Me out when they released “You Shook Me All Night Long” from the classic Back in Black album.

Novelty was the B-Side on Joy Division’s “Transmission” single.

And finally, that well-known regular chart-topping beat combo King Crimson released the instrumental improvised piece Groon as the flipside for their 1970 smasheroo “Catfood”.

The Killer B’s

Renegade Soundwave – Positive Mindscape
Meat Beat Manifesto vs. Orbital – Mindscape (Mind the Bend the Mind)
Underworld – Cowgirl
Jah Wobble – Get Carter [Cliff Brumby Rmx]
Mark Stewart – High Ideals & Crazy Dreams

Cocteau Twins – Spangle Maker
Bill Nelson’s Red Noise – Acquitted By Mirrors
Jam – Butterfly Collector
Yeah Yeah Noh – Bias Binding
Skids – TV Stars

Gay Dad – The Not-So-Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle!!

I know Severin was only joking, but I often think about Gay Dad and couldn’t resist. Now, I won’t attempt a “Defence of…”, that may be beyond the powers of mere mortals like myself, but I think it’s a story worth telling. So, gather round and hear the ultimate tale of media manipulation, mass marketing genius, funny band names and mediocre indie rock.

Scene 1 – North Laines, Brighton, Spring 1998
Luke #1: (Reading the NME at home, or “studying” is perhaps a better word as these were the days when he used to read NME from cover to cover (including the adverts) every week. Looking at a full-page ad for the upcoming Reading Festival): “‘Ere Luke, ‘ave a look at this, there’s a band ‘ere called ‘Gay Dad'”” (he resolutely refused to use “h”‘s in those days).
Luke #1 & Luke #2 together: “Brilliant!”

The Back Story
Gay Dad, were put together by a not particularly well-known, but very photogenic (in a more indie-tastic and handsome Kurt Cobain kinda way) music journalist called Cliff Jones. After years of getting nowhere, he set about using his contacts to storm the charts and cement Gay Dad’s place in the pantheon of rock history. The fact that he failed miserably, makes it all the more fun!

They already had the mildly shocking and frankly brilliant band name: Gay Dad. The next step was to rope in some of the biggest names in rock to get behind them. They somehow got legendary producer Tony Visconti ( T-Rex, Bowie etc) to produce several of the tracks that became their debut album, which “leaked out” (as all followers of politics know, “leaks” are always deliberate) as a demo and through various music biz contacts got into the hands of Radio 1 afternoon DJ’s and cult favourites (including one ex-member of The Fall – but then again, who isn’t?!) Mark & Lard.

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Burns’ Night

Tonight is Burns’ Night. It is a date etched into my memory not because I am Scottish (I have no known Scottish ancestry) but because it is my birthday. This year,  I am 40.

It seems like the perfect day to listen to The Burns Unit (who seem to have made an impression on Sheddi; quite an achievement, as he is usually fairly resistant to many of my more off-beat folky purchases). Anyway, here is my current favourite from Side Show, “Blood, Ice and Ashes”, featuring the delectable vocals of Karine Polwart, with a rock-influenced backing:

Who Would You Reboot?

Jack White is such a show-off, trying to upstage the dear wee old lady like that. Wanda Jackson dated Elvis you know, bet Jack is jealous about that. The Fall covered her “Funnel Of Love” on their LP from last year, guess it’s Wanda time. If anyone has any other WandaFacts, please do put ‘em in the comments. I’m listening to her Jack White produced album on Spotify and it’s very enjoyable. Not on a par with his Loretta Lynn reboot which I loved but is whiling away the last of a work monday afternoon. There’s an obligatory Amy Winehouse cover on there, but a tune the Arctic Monkeys have done better already.

It seems to be a bit of an industry at present, the reboot of fading legends for a new audience or the last stab at credibilty for those written off as cheesemongers, I guess Johnny Cash kicked it off successfully – Neil Diamond and Tom Jones less so.

But who has been overlooked so far, and could make for a great reboot, and who would help them do it?

Dolly Parton and Goldfrapp? Van Morrison and Tindersticks? Alanis Morrisette & Warpaint? Paul McCartney & Lightning Bolt?

New Adele!

She’s maybe a bit mainstream for ‘Spill tastes, but I’ve always thought she was the most interesting of the post-Winehouse chantoozies and I think this track is stunning, so I thought I’d draw it to the attention of those who are even less up on the current hit parade than I am. At least she’s not still banging on about chasing pavements…

PS Good instructions on creating posts, maki! I followed ‘em; they worked.

Once upon a time in LA

l-r: Jim Keltner, Jeff, Tom, George, Bob, Roy. Photos Alberto Tolot; artwork by George

Once upon a time, in the spring of 1988 in fact, George Harrison’s record company asked him to write a song for a B-side. Opinion is divided as to what the A-side was to have been, and it doesn’t matter anyway. Now, George was in LA at the time, and he had a go at writing the song, but he got stuck; and, happening to bump into Jeff Lynne (World’s Self-Proclaimed No. 1 Beatles Fan), he mentioned his difficulty and Jeff said: “Well, I’ve had a bit of success in the past helping people with this sort of thing – why don’t you and I sit down together and see whether we can sort it out? How’s tomorrow for you?” (That was what Jeff was saying, and of course it may have been that what he was thinking was “hmm, and then I’ll have composer credit on a George Harrison single.” But let us be charitable.)

And George replied that tomorrow was fine, thanks, only he’d have to retrieve his guitars from Tom Petty’s house first. You see, George didn’t have a house in LA so he’d taken to leaving a couple of guitars at Tom’s house, and that way he didn’t have to go lugging them around on aeroplanes. So he rang Tom, and Tom was at home; and George asked whether it would be OK to come round the next day and pick up the guitars, and Tom said it would be perfectly fine.

So the next day George and Jeff rolled up at Tom’s house, and Tom was at home, and George explained that he and Jeff were going to sit down together and sort out a song, and he asked Tom whether he’d like to join them and Tom said he would. Then the next problem was where this sitting-down might take place. They wanted a studio, so that they could make a demo of the finished song; but not a commercial studio, which in any case they weren’t going to be able to get at such short notice.

Now, if all this had taken place before Tom’s house burned down, the answer would have been simple: they would all just have gone downstairs to Tom’s studio and done the sitting-down there, and the Traveling Wilburys would have been a much smaller band. But it was after the fire, and Tom was living in a rented house with no studio. So they thought about who they knew who had their own studio; and they thought of Bob Dylan, who had a studio in his garage. And they rang him up, and Bob was at home, and he said “Sure, come right along – and I’ll sit in with you, if that’s OK.”

Which it was (OK, that is). So they all got in the car and went over to Bob’s house, and they all four sat down in the garage to finish the song; and while they were working on it Bob suddenly said “What’s the name of this song?” and George glanced round the garage and he saw a box in the corner with a Handle With Care sticker on it. And he said “Oh, it’s called Handle With Care.” (Only he pronounced it Handle With Curr, because of being Liverpudlian.) They recorded the demo, and by then it was dinner time, so they all went and had dinner together and George told them about his idea.

Seems that ever since the Beatles broke up, George had been wanting to be in a band again. He’d tried it out a few times already, but it just hadn’t seemed to gel. So he asked the other three whether they’d be interested – not in working together full-time, but as a kind of mutual side-project – and, because they all liked each other and had had such fun working together that day, the others agreed that they’d give it a go.

Then someone mentioned that Roy Orbison was playing that night in a nearby town, and they decided (having finished dinner) that they’d like to go and see his show. So they all got in the car and drove over to see Roy, and after the show they went backstage to Roy’s dressing room and told him about their new band, and asked him whether he’d like to be in it, and Roy said he would.

And that is the story of how the Traveling Wilburys began.

PS George’s record company said Handle With Care was too good for a B-side. Which was just as well really, because George had decided the Wilburys might as well all get back together and write another 9 for an album, and that’s what they did – in ten days flat, because Bob was due to go out on tour.

master of…….

1 The Disguise Ornette Coleman
2 Secret Agent Tony Allen
3 Disguises of Montreal
4 Real Tuesday Weld The Real Tuesday Weld
5 My Life as a Secret Agent Shabby Rogue
6 Bluebird One Self
7 I Wish I Was A Motown Star The Clifford Gilberto Rhythm Combination

1 Funky Cold Medina Tone Loc
2 He’s In Disguise Thee Headcoatees
3 Masters Of Deception Ghetto Priest
4 Executioner (Adamson Mix) The Wolfgang Press
5 Clandestine Operation Up, Bustle & Out
6 An Artist With A Brilliant Disguise St. Thomas
7 A Normal Suburban Lifestyle Is A Near Impossibility Once You’ve Fallen In Love With An International Spy Casiotone For The Painfully Alone

New PJ Harvey!

Photo by Cat Stevens

Absolutely tremendous new song and video from ‘Spill fave PJ Harvey. I especially like the use of a camera obscura in the last quarter of the video, it’s always something that I’ve wanted to utilise on film. This song, along with “Written On The Forehead”, that previewed a wee while ago – are all shaping up for a very promising album which may well be out on Valentine’s day.

Not What It Seems

Identity Crisis

Plain Characters – I Am A
Delta 5 – You
Alec Empire – In Disguise
Hugh Cornwell & Robert Williams – Irate Caterpillar
Electrafixion – Who’s Been Sleeping In My Head?
Chameleons – Second Skin

Smooth Operators

Wax Tailor & Marina Quais – Behind The Disguise
Post Industrial Boys – Take A Walk On The Wild Side
Yello – You Better Hide
Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better

World Gone Wrong

I put Dylan’s Album Good As I Been To You in the dropbox. And I couldn’t not follow that up with World Gone Wrong. So I thought I’d let everybody know these two albums are in there. They were recorded in the early 90s, within a year of each other. They’re unusual Dylan albums because there’s not a single original song on there. And it’s the first acoustic-just-Dylan-and-his-guitar album since the early 60s. If you don’t like Dylan’s marmite voice, imagine it completely destroyed by over use and abuse, and you have his voice as it sounds on these albums. They both kill me, though. The songs are so raw, and his performance is so virtuosic (on guitar) and so completely honest and heart-felt. For your delectation, on my list I’ve put two Dylan “covers” coupled with their Blind Willie McTell originals.

Anyway…it’s in the box. I’d be curious to hear what people make of these albums.

Six Minutes A Month – Jan/Feb 1992

As we continue the tracking of the evolution of indie via the teenage lifeline of The Chart Show’s Indie Chart (on a 19 year delay system) we now reach the chart from the start of 1992 – tearing headlong into a golden era where even having hair a bit like Mark Gardener from Ride could get you a snog.

Notable for a couple of appearances from British bands fronted by bonkers ladies, Silverfish -who were part of the Camden Lurch scene don’t forget (along with Th’ Faith Healers and um….anyways remember when everyone wore a “Lips, Hips, Tits, Power” Silverfish t-shirt??) with a bit of their grunt-rock sound and Daisy Chainsaw who featured the wacky Katie-Jane Garside upfront. Daisy Chainsaw once turned down a record deal with Madonna’s label. Where’s Madonna now eh?

Keeping up the shoegaze end are Lush, and crashing mightily into the chart are Ride with “Leave Them All Behind” – one of my favourite all time tracks, shoegaze classic, and a song I endlessly try and get into the RR canon.

Also, look out for a pre-Bjork Bjork, a song that regularly gets mentioned on RR that I dare not name, and some utterly incredible dancing from Bobby Gillespie from the newly-reinvented Primal Scream.


30 Minutes Over Tokyo – The Final Podcast

Yes! That’s right, may I present to you the final ever edition of 30MOT.

Has some terrible tragedy befallen your 6th favourite ‘Spill-based podcast?

Has your humble narrator stormed off in a huff due to some unnamed and ill-perceived slight?

Well, you’ll just have to listen to find out!

Thanks to anyone who has ever listened to an edition of 30MOT, every one was a lot of fun to make and present to you all!


P.S. For anyone who downloads from Dropbox to listen on their iPod, hopefully, if the images survive the transition to DB, this should be a specially enhanced Podcast with random pictures and some photos of me gormlessly brandishing vinyl and attempting (and failing miserably!) to match my sartorial elegance to the tone of the tune being spun!

Back when it was all in black and white …..

Ah yes, remember the 1970s?

Top Of The Pops, Pan’s People, The Generation Game, only three TV channels and The Old Grey Whistle Test. We did what people always do when things aren’t so great, we partied. Mind you, we didn’t know things weren’t so good, we were all young.

Before punk came along and spat in the eye of prog, when the sequins were falling off of glam and when everyone drove brown cars, we had Austerity Britain. Remember? Crisis? What Crisis?

Remember when Life on Mars was just a David Bowie song and when the ultimate in chic involved nose-bleed inducing platforms and more make-up than the Revlon counter in Boots? Yes, we had it all. The Three Day Week, Beige, orange and chocolate swirly carpets, bottled Double Diamond and Spangles (the sweets, I mean, not sparkly clothes, although we had those too.).

If you can’t remember a Vesta Chow Mein and a bottle of Mateus Rose as the height of fine dining, well, what can I say apart from “You wasn’t a student in the 1970s”.

So, in the spirit of retro austerity, I offer up a vague approximation of a Student Union disco night with this playlist;

No track listing – it’s a disco remember, not too many surprises here but if anyone wants to play “Name That Tune”, feel free.

austere powers

1 The World Is Gone Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra
2 Simple Life Eight Legs
3 Living Is So Easy British Sea Power
4 Austere The Joy Formidable
5 From The Richest Planet David Ivar Herman Düne

1 The State Of The Union Thievery Corporation
2 Pocketful Of Money Jens Lekman
3 Staying Sober Golden Virgins
4 Slap Dash for No Cash Art Brut
5 Craftsmanship Buck 65
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1Jean Redpath, 2Ethiopians, 3Johnny Flynn, 4Billy Bragg, 5The Smiths, 6Bob Dylan, 7Belle and Sebastian, 8The Clash, 9The Coup, 10K’naan, 11Tribe Called Quest, 12Talib Kweli, 13Mos Def.

Even the losers get lucky sometimes

House before

I got a bit carried away over on the mothership there, and because I don’t want to leave you feeling sad, I thought you might like to read the next part, in which I have two incredible strokes of luck.

Towards the end of the 80s the firm I was working for under the Community Programme scheme decided to amalgamate its two Milton Keynes branches. By that time I was the manager of one of them; but the manager of the other was more experienced than me, and very well-liked, and so I decided it was time to start looking for another job. The job situation had eased a bit and I started to apply for anything at all that I thought I might like to do, including jobs that I was not in the least bit qualified for.

One of these was a job in the NHS doing health promotion, and because I had no NHS experience I was neither surprised nor sad when the no-thank you letter came. What did surprise me, though, was that a couple of weeks later the health promotion manager rang up and asked whether I was still interested in the job.

“Well, yes,” I said, “but haven’t you already appointed?” And she said no, there had been a muddle over the interview process and her personnel people had told her she’d have to interview again. And I said I would be happy to be interviewed.

Since I supposed I had only been invited in order to make up the numbers, as it were, I did no preparation for the interview, nor did I worry about it in the slightest, but just turned up on the day and smiled a lot. At the interview I was asked what was my current salary, which was £10,500; and they said oh, we could do a bit better for you than that. I was offered the job at a salary of £14,250 and yes, reader, I took it – very quickly realising that I was now within reach of the bottom of the housing ladder. At that time you could get a mortgage for three times your salary, and I knew of a house that was for sale for £37,000.

This house was next door to my friend Jean-Pierre, the piper with the Cock and Bull Band, and he and his wife had been interested in buying it (originally it had all been one house) but had decided they couldn’t afford it. They knew, however, that there was a council grant available to renovate the house which was at that time unfit for human habitation, as it was wringing wet all through and needed new everything. J-P told me the name of the man at the council, and gave me his phone number.

So I rang up Mr Collins at the council, and as soon as I said what house it was, Mr Collins got very interested. (The council really REALLY needed someone to take this house on.) He asked a couple of questions to see whether I would be eligible for the grant, and one of the questions was did I have any children under 19 living at home?

“Well, yes,” I said. “My son is 18, and he’s still at home – but it’s his birthday in a fortnight, so it’ll be too late, won’t it? Surely it’ll take some time for the paperwork to go through?” And Mr Collins said no; that if I were interested in applying, the application would be dated that day and he could take it there and then over the phone. I told you they were keen. A few days later I got a letter saying I could have a grant of £30,000 to get the house renovated.

But there was one more hurdle. I couldn’t get a mortgage because the house was derelict. All my waving of the grant letter under their noses did not convince the building societies that my project would be a good thing to invest in.

I mentioned this one day at work, and one of my new colleagues said that her husband was regional manager of the Woolwich building society. “Why don’t you go and see Peter?” she said. “I’m sure he’ll sort something out for you.”

House after

Take it away, Tom.

Austerity Measures

Leftfield – Chant Of A Poor Man
Gary Clail – Food, Clothes & Shelter
Misty In Roots – Food, Clothes & Shelter
Congos – Bring The Mackaback
Mark Stewart – Hypnotised

Calvin Party – Tell Me About Poverty
Todd Snider – Doublewide Blues
John Cooper Clarke – Beasley Street
Stanley Winston – No More Ghettos
Talk Talk – Give It Up


Given the enthusiastic response to Amylee’s Nicky appreciation society and the several mentions of Quicksilver this might be an appropriate spot to consolidate all the aging hippies hereabouts, to that end I’ve digitized one cut from QMS’s finest album. Unfortunately by the time Nicky joined the group they were in terminal decline, blame Dino for that, but their Happy Trails album from 1968 was QMS at their finest. The cut I’ve chosen is to me the highlight of the album, it’s ‘Calvary’, it closes side two. This is definitely headphone music, so put ‘em on, sit back for about 10 minutes and enjoy; it’s fabulous!

Here’s the album’s review from Spotty.

Playlist Pairs – New Discoveries

In which Steenbeck shamelessly steals Nilpferd’s idea, and leaves you all wondering why she hears any similarity in these two songs…

Koto Song

Saturday Night Blowout

We were lucky to find ourselves with quite a bit of new music after the holidays. These are two tracks that somehow stood out for me in their sweetness and complexity of mood. The first is Dave Brubeck’s Koto Song. It’s lovely and contemplative and moody. Mostly subdued, but with currents of joy running through it. It reminded me a bit of Mulatu Astatke, as well, which is always a good thing. The second is from our new Calypso album, which is charming from start to finish. This nearly instrumental track, Saturday Night Blowout, by John Buddy Band Williams, also struck me as very sweet. It’s a celebration, but it has pockets of weightiness that serves to elevate the mood even more, in a way. I’m not very good at writing about music, so give a listen.

Nicky Hopkins Appreciation

Since people seemed to enjoy Nicky Hopkins’ piano playing on the Jeff Beck Group earworm, you may enjoy a few more samples of his work. Well known songs to those of us of a certain age, you may or may not have known it was Nicky’s piano playing that graced the tunes.
He was primarily a studio and session musician, (getting his start with Screaming Lord Sutch), as Crohn’s disease and ill health made it difficult for him to tour. He made a few solo albums, but remains best known for his work with the Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Jeff Beck, and many, many more. He died in 1994 at age 50 from complications from intestinal surgery. RIP Nicky, and thanks for the music.