Monday, 18 May 2015

2 new 7"s from Those Old Records

Those Old Records is a record shop in Rugeley, Staffordshire.  They run a mailorder and also a label which has just issued a couple of excellent Emidisc acetates from the 60s (bought from a former Sounds journalist, apparently) on 45 for the first time.  "Tangled Web" by Bedford's Spell is a lilting dose of soft psych from the same orbit as The Action's trippier, less overtly soul-influenced material:


Equally enjoyable is "Train" by John Williams which oscillates between a tightly wound Brit R&B shuffle and looser, more psychedelic structures: 

How something so distinctive wasn't deemed worthy of a release at the time is a mystery!  Those Old Records have to be commended for allowing the music of John Williams and Spell to finally take its rightful place on 7" vinyl.  Sterling stuff.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Event

Had I been home when the postman arrived today I would have struggled not to give him a hug as the parcel he had in his bag for me contained the lp on which this giddy-making slice of British Invasion revival (it's from 1989 not 1965) POP appears:

Now, that's how to open an album!  I think it's safe to say that the singer has heard Alex Chilton.  If you'd asked me a fortnight ago if I'd ever heard The Event before YouTube's algorithm kindly suggested I give them a whirl, I would have told you unequivocally that I hadn't.   I would, of course, have been entirely wrong as a good friend had included them on a compilation for me a few years back.  I must have been so snowblind from the avalanche of other great pop songs on that disc to notice it at the time.  On first listen "Pop Think In" was only one of a number of tracks on "This Is The Event" to set the pulse racing. "She's Our Girl", in particular, is pop art POP at its best:

Getting to grips with "This Is The Event" (Voxx) over the next few weeks is going to be a blast. 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

26th April: Sarah Records documentary screening in Glasgow

Next Sunday the Monorail Film Club is presenting a special screening of Lucy Dawkins"My Secret World: The Story of Sarah Records" at the Glasgow Film Theatre.  Following the screening I (!) will be chairing a Q&A with Clare Wadd who co-ran Sarah Records with Matt Haynes.  I've written before of my love for Sarah Records, so it's a great honour to be asked to do it.  Last May, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Sarah Records themed weekender at Bristol's Arnolfini Centre at which the film was premiered.  It was a blissful weekend from the film itself, to the exhibition of Sarah Records memorabilia, to the walking tour of Bristol ("Look!...there's There And Back Again Lane!") to the live performances from The Orchids, Secret Shine, The Catenary Wires (Amelia from Heavenly's new group - debut single out NOW on Elefant of Madrid) and the living breathing art exhibit, Julian Henry.  It really was, to quote The Sweetest Ache, a heaven scented world for a couple of days.

What a majestic record! Unbelievably, only a b-side, too.  Incredible.

There's a Facebook event page here.  Here's what I wrote for it:

I was ripe for Clare Wadd and Matt Haynes’s Sarah Records. At the turn of the 90s I was a pretty timid teenager looking for things to help sand-off the rough edges of life. When Sarah released one heart-meltingly beautiful single after another by the likes of The Sea Urchins, The Field Mice, The Orchids, The Wake etc., I was in. Sarah stood out because it proudly celebrated beauty and unashamedly celebrated sensitivity; things which irritated the more laddish element writing for the rock press at the time. They got some savage reviews and were dismissed as “limp-wristed wimp pop”. Professing to a love of Sarah Records was more often than not met with a disparaging sneer. It only made me love them more. Sarah was about more than just music, too. I looked forward to reading Matt and Clare’s writing on the record inserts, fanzines and newsletters almost as much as I did to hearing their new releases; it was so passionate, erudite and slyly funny. Sarah didn’t shy away from the political - check The Wake’s “Major John” and wasn’t ‘Fuck the poll tax!’ etched into the run-out groove on the a-side The Orchids’ “Underneath The Window, Underneath The Sink”? - and it was inclusive: female, male, gay, straight, all were welcomed by Matt and Clare. Like Postcard before it, Sarah produced some wonderful ephemera. There were 5” flexidiscs, the aforementioned newsletters, gorgeous cut and paste fanzines, balloons, the butterfly design Heavenly carrier bag which, inexplicably, got up the noses of the more dunderheaded heavy metal tee wearing types on my university course and so much more. The records consistently looked fabulous, too. When Matt and Clare called it a day in 1995, I was genuinely a bit heartbroken. Happily, however, time has been kind to their uncompromising vision and impeccable taste, what with Lucy’s documentary and a soon to be published book. Even former foe the NME recently proclaimed Sarah to be second best indie label ever. Something which rivals Canadian punks Fucked Up covering Another Sunny Day’s rollicking “Anorak City” in terms of sheer unexpectedness.

Lucy tweets about the film at: @SarahRecordsDoc

The Wake "Clouds Disco" 7" (FBN 94)

Yesterday's Record Store Day at Monorail Music was a blast.  As ever, I bought a load of Record Story Day exclusives that I undoubtedly would have bought on any other day of the year: The Liminanas 7", the Hinds/The Parrots split 7", the third archival Half Japanese box, the new Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings 7", Night School's Rose McDowall reissue 12" etc..  I also bought the NF Porter reissue "Keep On Keeping On" / "I Can Only Be Sure" despite its 12.99 asking price because a) the SONGS and b) I'm no Daddy Warbucks so affording the originals is the stuff of delusional daydreams for me.  The record I had been looking forward to picking up most, however, was The Wake's subtly shimmying "Clouds Disco" 7".  It was a highlight of the cd version of last year's "Testament" compilation but belongs on 7" vinyl.  Caesar's vocals are so gentle and great and those keyboards sway as organically as seaside grass.  It's a sweet reminder that The Wake's melodies, heart and uncluttered arrangements are always welcome.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Spinning Coin "Albany"

Sometimes you go to a show and there's an unfamiliar new local band on the bill and you're not really expecting too much of them so you're chitting and chatting but then they play a song and it stops you mid-witter.  That song then plays in your head on and off for days so you get fired-up with evangelical zeal, hellbent on telling the world, only to remember that it's 2015 and that unless you can let people hear the song in question, it'll be forgotten in the time it takes to read 'View 4 new Tweets'.  The last time that happened?  When I heard 'Albany'" by Spinning Coin at Audio last December.  Helpfully for evangelists, it has now been posted to Winning Sperm Party's  - they're releasing the group's tape - Soundcloud page:

What an endearing slice of weed-dazed, vulnerability! A friend astutely mentioned the name Further on hearing them. To that I'd add Tomorrow's Tulips. I suspect that the Burger Records' collective hearts will pogo when they hear it. If the rest of the tape is as affecting it'll be a must purchase.  From the two times I've seen them live, however,  I know there are at least two or three more stunners, one of which is in the vein of Teenage Fanclub's unageing, untouchable "Everything Flows".


Sean Armstrong, one of the singers in Spinning Coin, has just made available his solo version of "Albany" and it's a dreamy, Alex Chilton-like affair.  Plain lovely.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Marshall Scott Etc.

For many years now, Saturday mornings have started with sleep-listening to Brian Matthew's Sounds of the Sixties on BBC Radio 2.  As with Peel's show, he plays such a wide range of material that I never like everything but every once in a while he'll play something new (to me) that cuts through the haze and has me scurrying to the internet.  This week it was romantic beat merchants Marshall Scott Etc..  Unusually, my search turned up a great British Pathe video in which the group step Mr Benn-style straight out of a gentleman's outfitters - check the guitarist's tartan trews! - into the grounds of Woburn Abbey to mime their tender 'Same Old Feeling' single:

Looks like the drummer went to the Ringo Starr school of larking about and smiling!  With its easy charm and sun-steeped melody, it's hard to believe that 'Same Old Feeling' wasn't the handiwork of a bunch of tanned Californians.  Now to find a copy on 7"...

Thursday, 12 February 2015


A trip to a record shop just isn't complete without at least one 7" sneaking into your bag is it?  The other week it was a new Vampisoul release which pairs a Colombian original by Elia Y Elizabeth with a cover another of their songs by Elefant Records' Single.  'Alegria' by Elia Y Elizabeth is beautifully constructed: verses of gentle, sunny day funkiness that slip with ease into a chorus of brassy exuberance.  It's just so endearing!  Vampisoul's parent label, Munster Records, has released this fine looking item by the sisters which, should it find its way into, say, Monorail's racks (hint!) will find a willing purchaser...

Single's take on 'Soy Una Nube' on the reverse is a more beat-driven affair that skulks somewhere between the brilliant bri-nylon pop of Saint Etienne circa "Nothing Can Stop Us" and a US 70s cop show theme.  An unexpected ESG sample seeps in around halfway through and pops up again at the end by which point you've already reached for the modern tools of evangelism.

Single is a duo (ha!), both of whom - Ibon Errazkin and Teresa Iturrioz - were in the eternally elegant Le Mans whose 90s records for Elefant were things of gentle wonder, especially their double 10" "Saudade" which still gets semi-regular spins on the Not Unloved turntable.  It's great to be reminded of their music and good to hear that they're still making lovely records (which sometimes have freaky covers!).

Glaswegians: As of 2 days ago Monorail had at least one copy of this essential 7" left.  Get on it!