Tuesday 27 September 2011

The Little Bits

This is getting ridiculous.  Next I'll be listening to Minipops!  After being knocked out cold recently by Gary and The Hornets' ultra-sensitive (not "wet", J!) version of "Baby, It's You", another song by a troupe of teenage boys from the mid-60s has hit me right between the eyes. "Girl, Give Me Love" by The Little Bits is the exact polar opposite of Gary and co.'s lovelorn girl-pop.  It's full of caveboy screams (check out the way the singer tries to be as gravelly as is humanly possible for a boy whose voice hasn't broken yet - brilliant!) and is about as rudimentary (those pounding, pounding drums!) and delinquent as pop music gets.  You get the impression that The Little Bits would've made off with Gary and The Hornets' lunch money on a regular basis had they been at the same high school.  Somehow, nearly four and a half decades after its release it manages to sound uncommonly feral.  A peek at popsike reveals that an original would set me back a few hundred pounds so I can categorically say that I'll never own a copy and a peek at YouTube reveals that the somewhat dubiously named Les Sexareenos banged out a ferocious cover that is dizzyingly hyper and hence utterly thrilling.  I suspect that their version won't make anywhere near as big a dent in my finances!

Friday 23 September 2011

The Pastels @ Platform, Glasgow on October 1st

Boss: I've got an opportunity. <boring business details>  It'll mean working next weekend.
Not Unloved: Ah, I'd love to but I'm going to see the greatest group to walk the planet.
Boss (walking off): Ah, I won't ask.
Not Unloved (tailing off): It's The Pas....

Sigh.  Still, that little exchange brought home that it's little over a week till I see the group which has affected my life most significantly once more and that thought cheered-up a fairly dismal week no end.  This year's Eastern Promise - for people of my vintage, the mere mention of this phrase provokes the Pavlovian response of nipping out to a 24 hour shop to buy a Fry's Turkish Delight! - sure features some fine acts in addition to The Pastels.  It'll be a real treat to see To Rococo Rot again after what seems like eons and the Conquering Animal Sound songs I heard on BBC Radio Scotland earlier this year sounded intriguing and promising.  Next weekend can't come soon enough!

(this post was written while listening to "Boardwalkin'" - which sounds better than ever it did!)

Thursday 8 September 2011

Baby, It's You

Bacharach and David's "Baby, It's You" is another of those songs like "I'll Keep It With Mine" and "She Does Everything For Me" which brings out the best in musicians and singers with the result that, to date, I've yet to hear even a semblance of a bad version. Both The Shirelles' and The Beatles' versions are as heartbreaking as you could ever wish for but it's Gary and The Hornets' tear-stained teenage boy version that takes the garlands*.  From that first 'sha la la la', which takes softness to a whole new level, it's uncommonly affecting.  Gary's vocal is stunning: pure, intuitive, nuanced (listen to the final 'suits ya!') and beautifully recorded.  Sure, he sounds a lot like a woman but then so did the Chris Montez when he sang "The More I See You" and "Foolin' Around" and they've always been my favourite songs of his.  There aren't all that many recordings on which I couldn't contemplate changing a single thing but this is emphatically one of them: the harpischords (?), the reverb, the backing vocals; all are perfect - strange to think that a group of soft boys made what in essence is now my favourite girl-group record..

The fact that I've heard of Gary and The Hornets at all is thanks to Teenage Fanclub and their memorable cover with Alex Chilton of the group's "Patti Girl" which came out in the mid-90s on one side of a mailorder-only 7" released by the NME. Apparently, they'd heard it first on a Calvin Johnson mixtape.  Copies of Smash Records' DJ promo of "Baby, It's You" crop up fairly frequently on ebay at around the 10-15 GBP mark for a clean copy (mine was at the lower end) but, really, just about any price would be worth paying to get your hands on such a gorgeous record.  There is a 100% chance that I will play "Baby, It's You" when I clumsily spin some tunes at the Glasgow Popfest in December (more on that nearer the time!).

Update: I can't believe I forgot that Dolly Mixture also did a wonderful version. It's not quite as moving as Gary and The Hornets' but it's certainly as cute!  Thanks A for the reminder.

Monday 5 September 2011

Wax Idols "All Too Human"

Wax Idols' debut single has been kicking around for a wee while now but just landed chez Not Unloved.  I should have picked it up sooner but when I needed to hear its no-nonsense beat and shimmering guitars before now it was easy enough just to head to Soundcloud and stream it there.  Thinking back, there haven't been many more exhilarating singles this summer than "All Too Human".  It stares you right in the eyes before deciding it doesn't need you and swaggering off without you a little over 3 minutes later.  Hozac unearths a lot of groups but its their female-voiced groups like Wax Idols and The Shrapnelles that I find the most interesting.  I guess some of their male groups are just a little too greasy and boorish for my tastes.

Wax Idols 'All Too Human' by HOZAC RECORDS

(get it from SoftPowerVinyl)

Sandhy & Mandhy

Oops, I broke my promise to myself repeatedly this weekend. Still, promising yourself that you won't spend too much money on music when there's stuff as good as Sandhy & Mandhy's "Para Castukis" reissue (Lion Productions) was a pretty wrong-headed thing to do.  It was yet another tip from the reliably astute Monorail crew (cheers Russell!) and marks Not Unloved's first foray into the world of Argentinian psych. By and large it's a soft-ish affair with acoustic guitars and lots of pretty organ lines which at times almost venture into perky Perez 'Prez' Prado territory, especially on "La Chica Sola y Triste".  Of course, this being from the late 60s, a few tracks get mussed-up by prominent fuzz guitar.  "Lluvia" has a particularly scrambled guitar break that would probably have been unbearable had it been recorded half a decade later but isn't thanks to it sounding small enough to fit inside a matchbox.  In places "Para Castukis" is as unthreateningly barking as John Ylvisaker's religious-psych masterwork/oddity "Cool Livin'", a record with which it shares the odd keyboard sound.  The original 13 track album is augmented by a few covers the most charming of which is a slightly awkward take on "As Tears Go By" that starts off as unbombastic and moving as 3rd album The Velvet Underground or The Modern Lovers of "Hospital". Also included are both sides of a single made under the name La Maquina de Musica.  All in all, a totally fascinating release which feels like it'll stand up well to repeated plays.  It's worth taking a few minutes to read what the label says about it here.

Read full review of Para Castukis - Sandhy & Mandhy on Boomkat.com ©