Discover Weekly #4

It’s taken almost a week to get round to writing this. Not because I can’t think of anything to say (that’s a rare occurrence) or because there’s any great difficulty in saying something about the next tune in this series. I had the Cassette piece in my head and wanted to get that done first. And then, for the second time in three months, my mother has been admitted to hospital.

I won’t go into it too much but my mother’s residence, and indeed the hospital, are around 40 minutes away from me. My sister lives a lot closer and has taken on a lot of the visiting duties, but I’ve been heading up when I can. My sister and I have had some lengthy phone calls around various aspects surrounding this hospital admission as it’s looking more serious than the previous one. So spare time and motivation to write have been limited this week.

Anyway.

9th January saw a new list and sitting in 9th place on the playlist was…no…surely not…I MUST have got that on a playlist somewhere! But I hadn’t (please note the use of the past tense there – the situation has now been rectified).

Despite the fairly traumatic nature of this week, this song has been going through my head pretty much all the time when I haven’t been listening to anything else.

How on earth this has evaded any previous listing, or indeed that its absence had failed to come to my attention, is beyond me. I’d even gone to the trouble of putting Juxtapozed With U from the same album onto a couple of playlists.

Super Furry Animals are a bit of a strange one for me. I like pretty much everything I’ve ever heard from them and have five of their first six albums, including the one from which this is the title track. But if you asked me to list my Top However Many Favourite Bands, they’d be some way down the list. I’ve been thinking about this and have a couple of thoughts as to why this might be the case.

1 – I used to work with a guy, a few years younger than me, who had heard the band before I did and was genuinely an enormous fan. I mean, he even used to name his Fantasy Football teams after their songs – what greater accolade can there be? Any liking of the band on my part paled into insignificance in comparison, and they didn’t feel like “my” band.

2 – They were at their peak in the late 90’s / early 00’s, just as small people that demanded constant attention were appearing chez TGG. I know full well that I didn’t spend the time with albums purchased during this period in the same way that I did in the previous fifteen to twenty years. As as result, bands from this era spring less readily to mind when coming up with those lists.

Whatever – it’s a top quality tune and if you’ve clicked on the link at any point whilst reading this, I’ll wager it’s well and truly lodged in your head now. And I don’t feel sorry about that at all.

TGG

2 responses to “Discover Weekly #4”

  1. Charity Chic Avatar
    Charity Chic

    Sorry to hear your mum is poorly
    Old age is a bugger.

    Like

  2. JC Avatar

    As CC said.

    I’m also with you on SFA in that I have and really enjoy all of the early albums; I’ve seen and loved them in the live setting. But if I was to compile a list of may all-time favourite acts, they wouldn’t make the Top 50…..maybe not even the Top 100.

    I’ve too much affection for the late 70s/early-mid 80s music to not have it dominate, while lots of singers/bands of the 21st Century have made a huge impact on me as the blogging days got underway and have continued. SFA, like many others, fall in between two stools.

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The Cassette Albums #1: World Party – “Private Revolution”

It was early March 1987. Probably (*1).

My then-girlfriend (Mt-g) and I are just starting the two mile walk from the one large supermarket in the city centre back to her student house. A VW Transporter van pulls in just ahead of us and I recognise instantly the face that appears out of the front passenger window. “Hey!”, I say, “It’s Karl Wallinger!”. I rush over to said van, barely noticing that Mt-g hasn’t actually moved at all. “Hiya, we’re looking for the King’s Head”, says Mr W. I politely inform him that there isn’t a King’s Head – does he perchance mean the King’s Arms, known for having rooms to let? He confers with the driver. They decide that it might be the King’s Arms. “In which case the bad news is that you missed the turning for it a couple of blocks ago. And the even worse news is that you’ll have to go right round the one way system to get to it now. Sorry – mad I know” (Thinking to myself all the time that I curse whoever came up with this bloody road system because I’ve just had to give some bad news to a guy who appears on some records that I own). Mr W seems quite chipper given the earth-shattering inconvenience that I’ve just made him aware of, thanks me very much and bids me good day. And off they drive.

I return to Mt-g. “Was he one of those people from your course? I thought you didn’t bother with them. (*2) What were you talking about?” Perhaps a little too smugly, I advise her as to who I’ve just been speaking. “Why didn’t you ask for some tickets for the gig tomorrow?” My next words are way too smug. “Er, because it’s pay on the door”. “Well you should at least have got his autograph”. At some stage in my life, I have taken to carrying a pen round with me all the time. This episode predates that. My response of “Haven’t got a pen on me” ensures an unusually quiet walk back to her house.

We did go to the gig – sadly, there was no dedication to “that guy in the audience with the glasses and the overcoat who gave us directions yesterday”. Half the audience were probably sporting overcoats. A reasonable percentage were probably bespectacled.

Private Revolution, purchased on cassette at some point in 1987, is an interesting album. Wallinger’s influences from the Beatles and Dylan among others, are very obvious, and it’s a very un-1986 album (apparently its year of release), given that students seemed to be the target audience. World Party were neither C86 nor goth, which covered petty much everyone else who performed there that term. I’d bought the title track as a 12″ single after seeing a clip on the TV and really enjoyed all the tracks thereon. Having played the album in its entirety twice over the last few days, there was a real familiarity which suggests I’d played it a lot more than I realised back in the days of cassette. I wouldn’t have said it’s my favourite World Party album (and all the ones I have were cassette purchases, so my view may change as I revisit those) but I’ve certainly reconnected with the song World Party, which I’d forgotten how much I liked. Sadly, Spotify users disagree and at the time of writing it has around 1% of the plays that Ship Of Fools has.

I’ll probably come to Ship Of Fools in a series I’m planning for the future about songs that never made the UK Top 40, but seem to have done a lot better elsewhere – or something along those lines. It’s an idea and no more right now. I’ll leave you with the title track that started my liking for this band.

And yes, that is Sinead O’Connor on backing vocals.

*1 – the gig I refer to is not on Setlist.fm, but there were other Uni gigs that month, so March 1987 it was. Probably.

*2 – Mt-g and I had been an item for long enough that she knew pretty much all of my acquaintances. She thought it odd that I didn’t socialise with anyone who was on my course, but just with other music geeks, the radio station crowd and some board gamers. “But they only ever want to talk about the course”, I said, “and frankly I don’t. It’s bad enough going to the bloody lectures….” I got a third.

TGG

4 responses to “The Cassette Albums #1: World Party – “Private Revolution””

  1. barrystubbs Avatar
    barrystubbs

    “I got a third”.

    Biggest lol of the day so far. A great tale.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. baggingarea Avatar

    I have a bunch of cassettes from this period, often bought like you for either financial reasons or because of extra songs. Although I have nothing to play them on, finding them brought a bit of a rush of nostalgia.

    Like

    1. thegreatgog Avatar

      Mine are buried in a corner of the study mentioned in the blog title. I had to move all manner of things out of the way to take some quick photos of the ones I felt I might want to write about. I find their presence reassuring. Mrs TGG does not.

      On a separate note, remiss of me not to have your blog on my list. I’ll add it on once I can remember how to do it.

      Like

      1. baggingarea Avatar

        ‘I find their presence reassuring. Mrs TGG does not.’ Very relatable.

        Like

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Coming Soon: The Cassette Albums

From around 1982 until 1993 or thereabouts, I purchased several albums on cassette. The majority of my purchases, certainly until 1988 were on vinyl, but I do have a significant number of pre-recorded cassette albums.

The albums from the early years, up to July 1988, were bought mainly because my record emporium of choice at the moment of purchase didn’t have said album available on vinyl, or the cassette version was in a sale (I was a student between 1984 and 1987 and again for a brief spell in early 1988, so I was easily swayed by discount offerings).

July 1988 saw me purchase my first car (a dilapidated 9 year-old VW Derby, nicknamed the “Debris” by my mates as bits used to regularly fall off it – door handles, wing mirrors, random bits of metal from underneath….). But it did have a radio / cassette player, which probably accounted for about half the value of the vehicle. It was at this point where a total proliferation of cassette albums began. Why bother buying the vinyl when I’d have to transfer it onto a cassette to play in the car? I could just get a pre-recorded cassette instead – one or two even had bonus extra tracks!

It all ended abruptly in July 1993, when the future Mrs TGG and I started living together. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we splashed out on a CD player to add to our collective hi-fi equipment. Blur’s Modern Life Is Rubbish heralded the new dawn of what is a scarily huge collection of CDs. Within a couple of years, we had cars with CD players and the cassette albums have been pretty much gathering dust ever since, grand survivors of Mrs TGG’s many culls of “your crap”.

Some of those albums have been replaced with CD versions over the years – pretty much everything by R.E.M. and The Smiths among others. But many of those albums have not been played by me in their entirety for over a quarter of a century. I’m not sure what state the cassette tapes are actually in these days, and the sound quality of the one remaining device we have which is capable of playing them is somewhat grim. Thank goodness for streaming services.

This new series will see me revisiting these albums and seeing which, if any, I really wish I’d listened to a lot more over the last twenty-five years.

I’ve just listened to the album about which I intend to write the first article, and it will include a mention of a brief chat I had with the lead vocalist of said album (don’t get too excited, it’s unlikely to feature in his memoirs).

For some reason, this tune has been going through my head whilst typing the above.

TGG

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Discover Weekly #3

My freshly curated playlist on Monday 2nd January had a song by Australian band, Flash And The Pan as its second tune.

For the UK reader with a long enough memory, Flash And The Pan are only really remembered for their 1983 #7 hit, Waiting For A Train. This was an annoyingly catchy tune that I bought early on in its rise up the Charts and was heartily fed up with it by the time it departed. I think thereafter it sat on the shelf, unplayed, for the best part of a decade. Absence made the heart grow fonder and I do now allow myself occasional listens, smiling all the while at the erratic music-buying patterns I had as a 17 year-old. At the ripe old age of 56, they haven’t really moved on all that much if I’m honest.

Anyway. That’s not the tune on my playlist. Nor is the featured tune their other UK Chart entry (yes it’s true, they’re not quite a one hit wonder). That tune is Down Among The Dead Men, from their 1978 debut album, which got to the giddy heights of #54 that year, although for some reason it was called And The Band Played On with the other title in brackets when released as a single in the UK.

The featured track is also from the debut album and was the b-side to their first single a couple of years earlier. At first glance when I looked at the list I thought it said Waiting For A Train. Then I cleaned my glasses and realised it was actually Walking In The Rain. Playing it, it seemed very deadpan and downbeat and also vaguely familiar. Was it a Waiting For A Train prototype? Well, possibly, but, no, there was something else. That’s it – Grace Jones! She did a cover of it on her 1981 Nightclubbing album (it’s the lead track).

Familiarity leads me to preferring Ms Jones’ version, but in all fairness I’d find some entertainment value in Grace Jones menacingly reciting a telephone directory to music.

So this Flash And The Pan track is unlikely to make it onto any of my existing playlists, largely because one of my “rules” is not to have two versions of the same song on any of them. But it’s here with an unofficial video as it was just a tad too early for MTV to be a consideration.

TGG

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Alan Rankine R.I.P.

And so we lose another talented musician at far too early an age.

There will be others who are far more au fait with the early Associates output than I am. Party Fears Two was my conscious introduction to the band, although I may have heard tracks before then without them registering. I certainly made efforts to explore the earlier recordings once they did cross over into the Top 40, and have enjoyed those songs for may years since.

I can’t see any videos for the pre-Sulk songs, which doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, so I’ll let the music do the talking on this link.

Hopefully a more cheerful post next time.

TGG

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Discover Weekly #2

Back after a short break to allow for Christmas and the added complications my sister and I are currently dealing with – our mother having recently been admitted to a care home, supposedly on a temporary basis….

Perhaps not the best time to start a blog, but it does at least take my mind off things.

The latest Discover Weekly landed on Boxing Day morning, but I’ve only just looked at it, and specifically at the 26th song on the list, Boxing Day being the 26th December and all that.

My initial thought was along the lines of “Oh, bother – that’s just trampled all over another piece I was going to write in a forthcoming series”. The Spotify algorithm is good I have to say – picking up on things I like, without me having obviously demonstrated any liking for it on that platform.

Mrs TGG and I both like Prince. We actually attended the same Prince gig at Maine Road, Manchester, a couple of years before we became aware of each other’s existence. However, there’s no question that one of us is more favourably disposed towards the track at #26 on this week’s Discover Weekly. And that will be me.

For the uninitiated, Hindu Love Gods was a one-off project featuring R.E.M. and the late Warren Zevon. The story goes that these recordings came about after some alcohol had been consumed in the small hours and everyone started playing some cover versions. Including this. It’s a cut above the average covers band, with Zevon snarling out a vocal as only he could.

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of cover versions, it has to be said. For me, what is absolutely key is that the act doing the cover should make the song their own, and that certainly happens here.

Not previously playlisted, I’ve added it to my Should Have Been A Hit? playlist – I can’t see any evidence of it hitting the Charts in any territory where it was released.

The forthcoming series I referred to is The Cassette Albums, of which more in the coming days. My (re)appraisal of the one and only Hindu Love Gods album may now have to wait a little.

TGG

One response to “Discover Weekly #2”

  1. barrystubbs Avatar
    barrystubbs

    I hope your mother us doing OK GoG.

    Hindu Love God’s were one of those bands that kicked around when I was younger but I never explored.
    Swc.

    Like

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Discover Weekly #1

This is what is intentioned to be a weekly series (although as previously mentioned, I’m not good with self-imposed deadlines, so it will appear when it appears).

I had only vaguely noticed a playlist on Spotify entitled Discover Weekly and had never really bothered with it. That was until J (age 24), the elder of my two sons, alerted me to it, largely because his version of said playlist seemed to have a lot of stuff that I like on it. To be fair, his main playlist owes a lot to stuff he’s heard me playing over the years – I’ve schooled him well!

Anyway, I’ve started exploring my own Discover Weekly as a result. I can generally categorise the 30 songs on each week’s list as follows:

  • Stuff already on a playlist but in a different version (e,g, full length version, radio edit, etc) – no discovering here.
  • Stuff I’ve heard of that isn’t on a playlist because I limit the number of songs by one artist on some of them.
  • Stuff I’ve heard of that isn’t on a playlist because I consider it to be complete and utter bilge.
  • Stuff I think I haven’t heard of but then realise I have heard before after all.
  • The odd genuine new discovery

My worry is that entries in this series may get a bit “samey”, but hey, let’s give it a go.

I’ll pick a tune each week and jot a few lines about it. The tune will be selected by using the date the playlist was released (if it’s the 31st, song 30 will get picked). This week’s list was out on 19th December, so song 19 it is.

My initial reaction was that I hadn’t got the faintest idea what this was. A spot of research confirmed an initial hunch that Michael Penn is indeed related to Sean Penn (brother). This did little to raise my expectations of what I was about to listen to. Once I started playing it, it sounded somewhat familiar, possibly because it’s been in my iTunes library since 2015, picking up 3 (presumably random) plays in that time. It deserves to be there. It’s a likeable, catchy tune from 1989 – not ground-breaking, but pleasant. It puts me in mind of Crowded House a bit, and that’s not a bad thing.

The song, released in 1989 didn’t trouble Chart compilers in the UK, but did reach #13 in the US. It’s from his debut album “March”. Quite how it got onto my iTunes library, I cannot explain. I can only think it was on a compilation of some sort that I loaded in. Anyhow, I’ve listened to the song more times in the last four days than I had in the previous seven years, so the algorithm certainly got that one right.

TGG

2 responses to “Discover Weekly #1”

  1. JC Avatar

    I’ve loads of things on my laptop hard drive that I’ve obviously downloaded from other blogs at some point over the year, but have no recollection of when and from where. It’s funny how often I then give such a song a listen again many years later and wonder what possessed me in the first instance!!

    Just to say, welcome to the blogging world. Good luck and have fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. barrystubbs Avatar
    barrystubbs

    Just discovered your blog TGG. Excellent stuff.
    I’ll be checking in regular.
    Swc.

    Liked by 1 person

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Martin Duffy R.I.P.

The fourth post on the blog, and the second obituary. Not really what I was planning.

Martin Duffy is perhaps best known for his work on keyboards with Primal Scream and from 1996 with The Charlatans. For me though, the impact of his keyboard playing will be best remembered in mid-80s Felt (a band I will almost certainly revisit on this blog). This is the lead track from the 1986 album Forever Breathes The Lonely Word.

TGG

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Terry Hall R.I.P.

I hadn’t really expected to be doing a post like this so early in the life of this blog. Having seen the news late yesterday evening, I have had time to read many tributes to Terry Hall during various pauses during my working day. And many there have been from both fellow musicians and fans alike. For me, as a 13 year-old, hearing Gangsters as it entered the Charts, The Specials seemed exciting, different, dangerous. The attitude of punk, the words a little clearer and a tune you couldn’t help but dance to. They were a band I stuck with until their demise just two years later. Terry’s next project, Fun Boy Three, also caught and held my attention – his deadpan vocals covering a multitude of edgy topics.

After Fun Boy Three ceased to be, in my head I was paying less attention to Terry and his work. Until today, when I realised that along with records by The Specials and Fun Boy Three, he also features on CD or vinyl in my collection with The Colourfield, Terry, Blair & Anouchka, Vegas and as a solo artist. Then there are the guest appearances with the likes of Gorillaz and the couple of tracks I downloaded from his collaboration with Mushtaq. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to his music.

My only regret is never seeing him live. I had a ticket to see The Specials in Manchester in September 2021 – only to test positive for Covid a couple of days beforehand and to have to pass the ticket on to a mate.

I’ll leave you with a couple of tracks – my favourite one from Fun Boy Three and a solo favourite from 1994.

TGG

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Something Old

As an easy way of getting started, here’s something I wrote for the now defunct blog When You Can’t Remember Anything, back in 2017:

My parents were born in the mid-1930s. They met in the early 1950s, before rock ‘n’ roll was a thing, and by the mid-1960s when I rolled up, they had amassed a record collection which would have served well as a playlist for the new Radio 2 station at its launch the following year. There was nothing by the Stones (despite Paint It, Black being No. 1 on the day I was born) and only one Beatles record (bizarrely, the Twist & Shout EP). The Hollies were OK though – there were a few of theirs, presumably because unlike the Fab Four, they hailed from the “correct” end of the East Lancs Road.

Throughout the next eighteen years, additions were made, with albums from the likes of Andy Williams, Perry Como, James Last and Richard Clayderman appearing on a regular basis. With that background, it probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that I was a very early starter in the “liking music your parents don’t” stakes – at the age of five to be precise. Seeing T. Rex performing Hot Love on what I presume must have been Top Of The Pops was my eye-opener and I clearly remember my father’s horrified reaction when I pointed at Marc Bolan and announced that I wanted to be like him when I grew up.

So, by April 1984, just a month or so shy of my eighteenth birthday, my parents had grudgingly accepted that this wasn’t a phase I was going through and that I had acquired a lot of vinyl that they didn’t want anywhere near the stereo in the living room.

That was when something rather strange happened as we ate our evening meal. I presume there must have been a lull in the usual conversation, which would have been around the seeming lack of revision I was doing for my forthcoming A Levels (a conversation that is strangely being repeated right now with my eldest…). My father suddenly asked, “Echo And The Bunnymen – are they one of those groups you listen to?”. Bracing myself for some sort of sarcastic remark, I looked at my sister, rolled my eyes and replied in the affirmative. “Their new one’s very good”, he stated. My sister and I looked at each other.

It was she who took the initiative, guessing at what she thought was going on. “The Killing Moon is their old one, Dad”, she said, “they’ve got a new one out now”. My father put down his cutlery, clearly affronted by her comment. “No”, he said very pointedly, “I mean the new one. Something to do with fingertips”.

The ensuing conversation revealed that in the timber yard where my father worked, the radio was on pretty much constantly in the various buildings on the site. In recent years, as the average age of the workforce had lowered in relation to my father’s, Radio 1 had become the station of choice, exposing him to some of the “rubbish” he believed I listened to.

My father didn’t really elaborate too much on what it was he liked about Silver, but there was a post-A Level conversation where he described Seven Seas as “another good one”. He had started buying cassettes to play in the car around that time and had moved onto The Eagles among others – maybe this had paved the way to him liking the works of Ian McCulloch and co.

So that’s Silver and what it means to me. I never did sit my father down and play Ocean Rain to him as I did OK in those A-Levels, went to Uni and those family evening meals became a thing of the past. I’m not sure if he’d have liked all of it, but I always think of him when playing tracks from it.

As a footnote, my father passed away a few years ago after a prolonged illness. He lost interest in most things, including music. However, my mother has picked up the mantle of surprising the offspring with musical observations, declaring Biffy Clyro’s original Many Of Horror to be far more “real” than the version by the bloke who won the X Factor….

TGG

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