Friday 29 April 2011

Maxine Darren "Don't You Know"

Tsk! Tsk! Look at the mess of this place... there are cd's strewn all over the place.  Ah, the joys of making mix cd's (it's not all podcasts and Spotify playlists in 2011!) for chums.  Of course, the real joy of compiling mixes is re-discovering all those semi-forgotten songs that made your heart stop when first you heard them.  Today, Maxine Darren's "Don't You Know"*  has happened to me all over again.  I was totally charmed by it back in the late '90s when I was mad keen on accumulating all 10 volumes of Sequel's Here Come The Girls series. It still possesses one of the finest intro/outro guitar lines I've ever heard; as precise and pretty as a little cut glass ornament.  Dig, too, those doo-wop style backing vocals and the key change that ratchets up the desperation to 11.  The 16 year old Maxine's voice is just the cutest thing and practically made for delivering the melodramatic 'dying'/'crying' teen heartache lyrics.  Maxine Darren was certainly one swinging little mademoiselle!

(* - it's currently available on this fine cd)

A missed opportunity

One Sunday night a few years ago (September, 2007) I was listening to BBC6 Music and heard a Listener's Mix.  It was really great but I knew I could do better so, in a spirit of cockiness and fired-up with righteous missionary zeal, I sparked up my PC and submitted one of my own.  A few days later I got a nice email from one of the production staff saying that they loved my choices and would like to broadcast my mix. Of course, I was  thrilled and fizzing with delight at the prospect of a trip to London to record my song introductions.  Unfortunately, however, it didn't happen. During the process the original production company lost the rights to produce the shows.  The new producers were still keen to air my mix but instead of recording the intros ahead of time, they wanted me to appear live on the show at the time of airing and have convivial chit-chat with the presenters (the Queens of Noize, if I remember right). Being a bashful sort that was never going to happen, so I thanked them for their interest but declined their offer. A few years on, it feels like a missed opportunity. I mean, how often do you get to hear your choice of tunes coming through the radio?  The opportunity to drone on about the genius of The Pastels,  Bettye Swann etc. at length would've been fun, too.  Ah well, it wasn't to be.  Below is the tracklisting I submitted.  I still think it would've sounded just champion on the radio!

  1. The Pastels – Comin’ Through
  2. Black Tambourine – Throw Aggi Over The Bridge
  3. Angela and The Fans – I Know You
  4. Oddfellows Casino – Ballad Of Oddfellow
  5. Beach HouseTokyo Witch
  6. Xavier Cugat – Perfidia
  7. Club 8 – The Beauty Of The Way We’re Living
  8. The Field Mice – If You Need Someone
  9. Section 25 – Looking From A Hilltop
  10. Mahogany – One Plus One Equals Three Or More
  11. Flying Saucer Attack – Wish
  12. Chuck and Mary Perrin – The Violets Of Dawn
  13. The Eyes – When The Night Falls
  14. Erase Errata – Another Genius Idea From Our Government
  15. The CrabapplesLondon Belongs To Me, Pt 2.
  16. Bubblegum Lemonade – The Tomorrow People
  17. The Clientele – I Hope I Know You
  18. Bettye Swann – (My Heart Is) Closed For The Season
  19. Kenny Carter - Showdown

Friday 22 April 2011

The Modern Lovers "96 Tears"

"We must shift America from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. [...] Man's desires must overshadow his needs."
Paul Mazer* (Lehman Brothers, circa 1930s)

Unexpectedly, this quote popped into my head earlier when trying to decide if I should purchase the "96 Tears" (Vinyl Lovers) l.p. by The Modern Lovers at some point.  I've seen it recently behind the counter in Monorail and been tempted to buy it a coupla times but each time the nagging doubt that I didn't really need to own live or early versions of much loved Modern Lovers songs prevented me from doing so.  Then, earlier tonight, @notirakaplan mentioned it in a tweet and that sent me scurrying off to YouTube to find out once and for all.  When I heard this version of "96 Tears" desire turned to need:

See, I do the opposite of what corporate America wants - I buy when I need not when I desire (or so I like to kid myself!).  But, come on, even the count-in is lusty and emphatic and the whole affair is groovy beyond belief.  I'll bet the young Jonathan Richman would cut some serious rug while performing it and I can totally imagine Ian Svevonius blasting it in his dressing room to achieve a higher state of groovyness prior to Chain and The Gang shows.  Need!

* - I first encountered this quote in the wonderful Adam Curtis documentary The Century of the Self which is, unsurprisingly, on YouTube and well worth watching!

Thursday 21 April 2011

Probably the best record sleeve of 2011 thus far

The Big Stramash

Woah, this looks great!

It'll be fascinating to see how '60s Mod legends The Poets shape up in 2011 and I'm sure it'll be a total buzz to finally witness a live stampede by Lenny Helsing's The Wildebeests.  How I've contrived not to see The Wildebeests before now is a mystery to me!  I'm keen, too, to see The Higher State as singer Mole's former group The Embrooks are, to this day (along with The Dirtbombs, of course!), just about the best garage group I've seen in the flesh.  One name that jumped out when I first saw the flier was Sally Skull.  Can this possibly be the same group who released stuff on Slampt in the mid-90s?  I hope so cos they were tops!.  Very interesting.  Tickets go on sale on May, 1st.  Fab gear!

P.S.  If anyone knows who sang the ace, bagpipe riddled "Highland Fling" (?) on the The Big Stramash's homepage, please leave a comment.  Thanks! 

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Peach Kelli Pop "Do The Eggroll"

Forget Botox and anti-wrinkle creams, if you wanna stay young just listen to this!

If they ditched the line about sniffin' glue this could be a massive hit on kids tv!

Update: 1 US dollar gets you this groovy lil tune that slipped out without me having a clue it even existed in September last year!

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Agitated Romantic

After an unexpected power pop/vintage punk epiphany earlier this year, I guess the time was right for me to encounter crack Australian power pop troupe The Scientists.  The impetus to finally seek out some of their work came upon spying that Moon Duo's* Agitated Records was reissuing "Frantic Romanitc" for Record Store Day.

From the intro's first Link Wray indebted strum and the first chant of "It was romance!" I was smitten and that was before I'd fully digested the unexpectedly cute lyrics.  Take, for example, the opening verse: 

Met her at a dance; it was romance!
Took her by the hand; it was romance!
Gave her my drink; it was romance!
Told her I loved her; it was rooomance!

Remember, these are not Talulah Gosh lyrics!  Only the most tediously macho oaf could hear them and not melt a little.  Guitar solos are usually a sore point round these parts but not this time; it's bendy enough to be interesting but never so noodly that it's unlistenable.  It didn't look like the 7" was flying off Monorail's shelves during Saturday's Record Store Day mania which is a shame but I, for one, couldn't countenance not buying it once I'd heard it.  "Frantic Romantic" marked Agitated's second brilliant Record Store Day reissue following last year's release of this bratty, wild-eyed masterpiece by The Electric Eels:

Thanks Agitated!

* - Moon Duo already demonstrated their love of The Scientists by recording a tremendous (better than the original?) cover of the pained, brooding "Set It On Fire" for the flip of last year's "Catch As A Catch Can" 7" (also Agitated).

Thursday 14 April 2011

"Masia" b/w "Jose's Instrumental"


Isn't it funny how sometimes you search and search for something truly remarkable but can't seem to find it and then, with no fanfare and with very little effort on your part, you stumble on something that sets your heart racing?  That happened a while back when I rescued (aren't I the heroic one?!) Savath Y Savalas's "Masia" 7"* from the sale.  At the time, the primary reasons for purchasing it were:

1) The price: 50p (if I remember, correctly)
2) The label art (see the slightly shoddy picture, above!)
3) The label: Stone's Throw

That is, I didn't buy it out of any drive to accumulate records by Savath Y Savalas.  For a record so unassuming and which makes its point with the absolute minimum of fuss, it has come as a bit of a surprise just how often I've been drawn to it.  "Masia" is one of those songs that, like the best of Lali Puna's work, never fails to bring some much needed calm, warmth and otherness to a day.  On the flip, "Jose's Instrumental" is equally poised, uncluttered and dappled by the late evening sun.  Unfortunately, for once, neither YouTube nor Soundcloud came up trumps but there are samples here for the curious.

* - Looks like it's still available from Stone's Throw as a freebie with any purchase of the "La Llama" cd or lp.  Buy it and cherish it like a Polaroid snap from a happier time!

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Hangover Lounge e.p. #2

London's most considerate (to sore heads!) and considered (check their list of previous guest DJs and bands for proof!) weekly club, The Hangover Lounge, has prepared a Record Store Day exclusive e.p. for your delectation. By all accounts, many stops were pulled out to ensure that it was ready on time so it seems only right that those efforts should be rewarded with a purchase, so that is what I'll be doing this coming Saturday.  Last year's e.p. - the club's first - contained some sublime sounds (including this wondrous cut from the prodigiously pretty Amor de Dias) that, in keeping with the musical policy of the club, didn't trouble any fragile, hung-over heads.  #2 looks set to continue this tradition if this typically gorgeous track from Paul Kelly and Debsey Wykes's much missed Birdie is a truly representative sample:

Really, there are few more life enhancing sounds than Debsey Wykes ba-ba-ing are there?  As if that weren't treats enough, it also includes Her Pop Highness Pam Berry coming on like a one woman Andrews Sisters on her first ever completely solo recording, "Wonder People (I Do Wonder)".  Oh, and I think you'll chuckle when you see the artwork!

For more information on the e.p., pop those peepers here.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Love Letter to Japan

A special album from Scotland for Japan will be released via bandcamp on April 11th (tomorrow!).

'Love Letter To Japan' has been specially compiled by Duglas T Stewart to raise funds for the Japanese relief effort and to send support to the people of Japan. The album will be exclusively available for one month only. The tracks come from a wide range of acclaimed Scottish musicians.

"Many of us Scottish musicians have received so much love and support over the years from friends and fans in Japan. Now we want to send some love and support back to the people of Japan" Duglas.

The album features exclusive, previously unreleased tracks from BAFTA and Golden Globe winning composer Craig Armstrong, Stevie Jackson of Belle & Sebastian, BMX Bandits, Bill Wells, The Pearlfishers, The Pastels, Snowgoose, Alasdair Roberts, Paul Quinn, The Starlets and Eugenius. The Eugenius track will be their first new recording to be released in 15 years. BMX Bandits tracks was recorded in Tokyo with Japanese group Tenniscoats. Momus currently lives in Japan and was there when the earthquake and tsunami hit the country.

All funds from the release go directly to The Japanese Relief Effort.

1. Snowgoose: Harmony Springs
2. The Pastels: Guest of Honour
3. Hidden Masters: Golden Hair
4. Stevie Jackson: Price of an Education
5. Paul Quinn: Away
6. BMX Bandits (with Yeongene & Tenniscoats): Standing Still
7. Eugenius: Friend or Foe
8. The Pearlfishers: Swan Dreams (live)
9. Bill Wells & Tape: Troublesome Malady
10. Ally Kerr: Could Have Been a Contender
11. Lenzie Moss: Where Eagles Dare
12. St. Deluxe: After the Fire
13. Jo Mango: The Moth and the Moon
14. Alasdair Roberts & Mairi Morrison: BrĂ dhagair an Taobh Siar
15. Randolph's Leap: Going Home
16. Craig Armstrong: Cherry Blossom
17. The Starlets (with The Andersens): To Make You Feel Brand New
18. Momus: I Can See Japan

Available from:

For more info please email

Tell your friends!

Sunday 3 April 2011

She Does Everything For Me

Certain songs, it seems, are so well written that nobody who tackles them records a bad version.  One such song must be Rod Argent's magical "She Does Everything For Me".  I first came to it in the early '90s via The Sneetches' fairly faithful but fabulous version which sparked a manic search for The Zombies' original which, it turned out, was even snappier and more psychedelic than The Sneetches' rendition.  Wind-on some 20 years and I chanced upon what has become my favourite version*; this time by Australian Robbie Peters.  It's a touch less psychedelic than The Zombies' but the playing is frenzied to the point of breathless and Peters' youthful voice and distinctive pronunciation of 'alright' give it real teen appeal.  It's completely glorious and must've driven teenage girls loopy!

I couldn't find the Robbie Peters version online so here's the original:

* - Robbie's version is tucked away at track 8 of Big Beat's revelatory collection of Australian sounds, the "Hot Generation", which provides compelling evidence that Australia could compete with the U.S. when it came to producing thumping, melodic post-Yardbirds garage pop.  

I wonder if The Zombies played it at Belle and Sebastian's Bowlie 2.  I'll be very peeved if they did and I missed it because I was scoffing a pasty in the canteen area!

Update: A bit of clicking around reveals that We The People also did a dandy version which is closer in execution to The Sneetches':

Brave Irene

It's a struggle to think of too many artists who've never released a bad record over the course of, say, a near 20 year 'career' in music.  It's even more of a struggle to compile a list of people who've never made an average record over such a period.  If I were to draft the latter list Rose Melberg's name would be on it and right up the top, too.  Whether solo or with Tiger Trap, The Softies and Go Sailor (or Gaze, for that matter) her records have been uniformly cute, lovable and brilliant.  It came as no surprise, therefore, to discover tonight that the debut e.p. from her new group, Brave Irene, was a breezy delight.  After the gentle folk of her last solo album, Homemade Ship, it's a thrill to hear her pick up the pace once more with 8 zippy, organ-enhanced songs that could equal Go Sailor and Tiger Trap for succinct catchiness.  So, a gold star and a sugar mouse each for Rose and her label Slumberland!