Monday 28 November 2011

Lawrence of Belgravia @ Glasgow Film Theatre

Monorail Film Club has certainly cooked up a very special treat for Sunday, 4th December!  They're presenting Paul Kelly's documentaries Lawrence of Belgravia and Take Three Girls: The Dolly Mixture Story about former Felt (and Denim and current Go Kart Mozart) visionary Lawrence Hayward and adorable early-80s pop group Dolly Mixture respectively.  As if that weren't treats enough, after the screenings, long time Felt fan Stuart Murdoch will host a Q&A with Kelly and Hayward.   I've been keen to see both films for ages so since word got out about this event a couple of months back I've been counting down the days.  Yet another reason for Glaswegians to give thanks for Monorail Music!

My favourite Felt song (always make me a bit teary for some reason):
 My favourite Dolly Mixture song:

After the main event in the GFT, the fun continues with a We Can Still Picnic and Monorail Music organised event in the CCA's Saramago Cafe/Bar where former Orange Juice guitarist James Kirk Unloved will be spinning some sweet records.  It's a total honour to be asked to be part of such an ace evening and to mark the occasion I've bought the cutest, loveliest Christmas record to play.  If you're there and you hear it, I hope you like it!

A post-Orange Juice James Kirk gem:

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Tower of Song

Last weekend's Blackpool Tower Soul Weekender was an unalloyed joy.  Of course the music was immense and invigorating and moving, that was to be expected, but the unseasonably wonderful weather and the sheer beauty of the spectacle of hundreds of people bobbing in unison in a grand old ballroom came as pleasant surprises.  There were some seriously brilliant dancers.  Dancers whose feet seemed to move as fast as hummingbirds' wings.  I could've watched Sam Evans - a former World Northern Soul Dancing champion - dancing for hours.  She put on quite a masterclass early on Sunday afternoon when a lot of folks were still out enjoying the tail end of the sunshine and would've given the much younger Steven Cootes (of Edinburgh...yessss!) who a little controversially took this year's crown, a right run for his money.  Never having been to a weekender before, I got a bit of a jolt when, just flipping through a box of records, I put my hand on an original Revilot issue of Rose Batiste's masterpiece "Hit and Run" with the £250.00 price tag written casually in marker pen on its greying card protector.  Part of me wanted to recklessly throw down a bunch of tenners then and there but sense and the fact that I own a perfectly good copy of the '90s Goldmine reissue prevailed.  The most expensive record I saw?  That was Don Varner's rolllicking "Tear Stained Face" which was priced at £800.00.  I stopped looking after that.  I'm well aware that rare Northern Soul records can fetch quite a sum on ebay or John Manship but to see such madly expensive 7"s just sitting in a box on a bar table and not behind toughened safety glass was wild.  Billy Butler's "The Right Track" became the anthem of the weekend with J and I stomping the deserted streets of Blackpool chanting its emphatic string part over and over after hearing it on Sunday afternoon in the main ballroom.  When played at ballroom wrecking volume it became a Delete button for all the other melodies onto which I'd been vainly clinging in the hope of identifying some day.  Why it wasn't on either volume of Kent's "Okeh: A Northern Soul Obsession"  I'll never know*.  So, a brilliant experience and one that I'd love to repeat next year.

* - Actually, that's not strictly true.  I'm sure that the reason why it wasn't included is because the smart folks at Kent would like you to buy their Billy Butler cd, too!

Monday 7 November 2011

Viv Albertine / Aggi Doom etc. @ Mono

Mono has been the venue for some of the most unique, memorable and soul stirring shows I've been lucky enough to witness in 21 years of gig going.  When it's heaving and Glasgow is up for it, you wouldn't want to be anywhere else on earth.  When, for whatever reasons, Glasgow doesn't show up and the lights cruelly illuminate what seems like acres of wooden floor it can be a sobering place.  Unfortunately, for former Slits guitarist Viv Albertine's show last there last night, the latter was the case.  For the first 2 acts, Tragic O'Hara and Lach, there was nobody on the floor in front of the stage.  It must have been demoralising for both promoters and performers.  To their credit, though, both met the situation with undimmed vigour. New Yorker Lach was particularly funny, going on a hilarious rant against Tom Petty and the charmed life documented in his biography.  He also played his song about Kiss twice.  Helpfully providing audio footnotes for those of us too dumb to know who Paul Stanley was on the second run-through.

Local cave-dwellers Aggi Doom were brilliant and for their brief set there were 6 feet on the floor in front of the stage, 2 of them mine.  If my eyes can be trusted, they count former Divorce guitarist Hilary Van Scoy and former The Royal We violinist Joan Sweeney (now on bass) among their number (4).  Primal beats, a reigned-in but (ton)sure-footed cover of The Monks and a witchy lead singer called Claudia Nova (great Bond girl name!) who shares a Dum Dum Girl's love of black eyeliner and hosiery adds up to a fine 15 minutes in my book.

Viv blew into Mono like a sparkly, bossy (her word) tornado. She arranged chairs in front of the stage and corralled the small crowd into something approaching a critical mass.  One thing you learn about Viv Albertine pretty early on is that she doesn't believe in romantic love any more.  You learn that and then you are reminded of it via songs like "Couples Are Creepy" (not 'cuddles' as an audience member in Edinburgh had thought the night before!) and her between song banter.  She's direct, confessional, not shy of the saucy stuff (check the slogan on the t-shirt*, above), most probably a handful but also sparky, creative and rightfully proud of her legacy.  The songs from last year's "Flesh" e.p. (Ecstatic Peace!) were rawer than on the cd - it was just Viv and her Telecaster, after all - but no less compelling.  She seemed to be having a great time and I for one can say that I was, too.  I just feel a bit guilty that I didn't do my bit to tell the world that she was playing.  If there's a next time, I will.

(I would've embedded this video but embedding has been disabled.)

* - If you dig the image on the shirt, check out more of designer Daniel Novakovic's ace illustrations here

La Terrasse confirms that Viv's Dundee show was simlarly great!          

Thursday 3 November 2011

I Still Big Red Heart Slumberland Records

Shamefully, it's been a while since I wrote about one of Slumberland Records' releases.  This should in no way be taken as a reflection of my thoughts on the quality of the records.  On the contrary, Slumberland has had another fantastic year.  I guess it's easy to take them for granted due to the sheer consistent high quality of their releases.  I guess, too, that now that other better read (ok, read!) sites are interested in Slumberland's records it can feel like they have less need for also-reads like Not Unloved getting all giddy about them.  But, so long as the records continue to be from the topmost drawer, Not Unloved will continue to get giddy about them!

The first Terry Malts 7" remains one of the most thrilling 7"s I've bought in 2011 (it's guaranteed a spot in my Top 10 of the year) so expectations were high for their second 45. "Something About You" injects a little more of The Ramones to the mix.  It is, of course, bouncy, fizzy and, most importantly, singalongably fun - even I can manage the 'oooohs' at the end!  It has a naughty word for added teen rebel appeal. Grand.

A few weeks back the cd of Weekend's "Red" e.p. took up residence in my work PC.  Anything that makes the working day go by that little bit more bearably is always welcome but it took a lot of restraint not to belt out "Hazel" whilst waiting for another 'coffee from fresh ground beans' to come to fruition from the vending machine.  Last year's "Sports" was a  startlingly good debut l.p.; all dark and pop brutal.  "Red" is a little brighter and it suits them well.

When Big Troubles (check out their chucklesomely bad website!) supported Ducktails at The Captain's Rest earlier this year it was their scrappier, noisier songs that got my heart beating the fastest so I was a little apprehensive when reports suggested that their 2nd l.p., "Romantic Comedy", was going to have a softer, more polished sound.  I needn't have worried, though, for former R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter was behind the desk and he hasn't been in the habit of ruining bands and he didn't this time.  "Romantic Comedy" is a fine record with melodies to spare.  It stands up well to repeated plays, too.

If you add to all of this that Sea Lions' long awaited debut lp* is imminent, Veronica Falls just dropped an album of the year contender and that Devon Williams released what sounds from the samples (it's yet to make an appearance in my local pop emporium of choice so I haven't purchased it yet) to be a big, confident melodic pop record, you realise just how important it is to keep on top of Slumberland's releases.

* -  Their "Let's Groove" remains the single most asked about record I've ever played out!