Monday, January 31, 2005

Julian Cope Wulfrun Hall

I saw Julian Cope at Wolverhampton Wulfrun hall on 22nd Jan, with the unexpected bonus of it being a freebie with 2 hours notice. Anticipation is good but free and a lift is better. Even with only 2 hours anticipation I was really looking forward to it. I last saw him doing his Modern Antiquarian speaking tour at Birmingham Glee Club (1998?) and very entertaining he was too. I’d also seen him with the Teardrops on the Wilder tour at Manchester Apollo and solo tours at The Hacienda (with the Woodentops), Manchester Carousel (leathers and mike-stand era) and Moseley Dance Centre (Peggy Suicide). Fair to say then I’m a bit of a fan, read the books and seen him in various stages of Shamanic and shambolic.

He was introduced as Julian Cope and his Ear Splitting Psychedelic Band. Great start. JC hurtled round the stage like an Iggy Pop possessed in a leather Stetson, shades and a Madonna radio mike to Hanging Out And Hung Up On The Line from Peggy Suicide. Sounds good so far...except there were no vocals and neither he nor the crowd ever recovered. The technical problems lasted for a couple of songs, but, even when resolved he was still struggling to hit notes. I really don’t want to kick The Cope. I’d heard him on Mark Radcliffe late last year, playing Sitting In The Room Where They Found Saddam In” and I’d heard him on Radio 6, more recently. Both times he was witty, engaging and the songs mostly worked. At Wolves though the crowd seemed baffled and hostile to his between song chat. (“We need strong women.... so the wild men can be strong”). As he prepared to sing Promised Land from Peggy Suicide a voice from the crowd rang out “You’ll fuck it up.” He did. There was needless clapping along too, which prompted, “You know out of time clapping really fucks me off”. By now I think he knew he’d lost the night. There were attempts at crowd pleasing with World Shut Your Mouth (vocals suffered there), Bandy’s First Jump, Head hung low and an amazingly misjudged version of Spacehopper. As the last song of the night it was not only slower than the original but the drummer did the half time heavy metal drum trick making it sound even slower.

For all guitar fetishists and closet cock rockers (hands up) Copey played a Flying V, and I spotted a Les Paul bass. There was some great wiggy guitar playing throughout. Other highlights included the black lipstick wearing from the guitarist who swapped bass and guitar duties with Donald Ross Skinner. Subtle Energies Commission sounded good and looked even better as DRS was playing a double-necked guitar. The best new song was Give Me Head. I was at the bar then and missed out.

Copey had announced that “I’m entering my second psychedelic phase” and that his post gig plans involved some Mexican mushrooms. On the drive back I heard Boards Of Canada’s first lp and was staggered. I would normally run a mile from scary electronica but the analogue synth washes and jabbering filthy scratchy sounds that made up the rhythm just fitted in so well with the lights on the motorway. In fact it was more psychedelic than the gig.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Recent random 'Pod plays

Go Ahead --Wire
Bones --Radiohead
Luxury- Rolling Stones
My Back Pages (Alternate version) - Byrds
Melon Farmer -Ash
Let’s get back Together -The Honeybees
Brothers On The Slide -Cymande
Congoman ( 12” mix) - The Congos
I’m Missing You - Loretta Williams
The Slide - Flamin’ Groovies
This Is Not My Crime - Gene
The Charm - Cosmic Rough Riders
Miles End - Gomez
My Life In England (Part 1) - Dexy’s Midnight Runners
Christine’s Tune - Flying Burrito Brothers
Don’t Let Me Down - Kim Weston
Who Loves The Sun - Velvet Underground
Prologue - Scott Walker

The key track for me on this random mix was Radiohead’s Bones from The Bends. They crept up on me as a band…as I didn’t like Creep, but I do like an alienated vocal yelp under layers of guitar. It also has a shimmering echoed guitar intro and it has the same Status Quo der DER der DER der DER DER riff that Teenage Fanclub could never resist on Bandwagonesque.

Mick Jagger’s “Poor boy working for the man” schtick wouldn’t stand up to close scrutiny but the lazy chunky guitar riff does….so case dismissed.

On the Dexys’ track (one of the new songs from Let’s Make This Precious) there’s a great line about the boy Kev arriving in England and when children at school called him “Mate” he thought they said “Meat”. The song is bolted on top of a Grandmaster Flash White Lines bassline which doesn’t work that well. I’m not going to say that too loudly though, as I’m just glad Kevin Rowland’s still around.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Swervedriver/Kevin Rowland

Recently played on the ‘Pod …by accident , shuffle and design

The Letter Box Tops
Empty At The End Electric Soft parade
I Don’t Mind Buzzcocks
Amusement Parks USA Beach Boys
Halloween Ash
Within You Without You Beatles
Firesuite Doves
Rag Doll Kevin Rowland
Son Of Mustang Ford Swervedriver
Volcano Trash Swervedriver
Sandblasted Swervedriver
Ravedown Swervedriver

The first Swervedriver releases came out on Creation in 1990 as 3 four track cd singles in card sleeves, all with the same stencilled band logo and although there were a couple of duds, the 12 tracks just hung really well together. In fact it works better than their first album, Raise They were a really underrated band with lazy drawled vocals and a fantastic way of layering guitar sounds with (that old rockin’ standby) the Jews harp. They were produced by Angil Dutt. (who later produced Boo Radleys Giant Steps…another masterpiece of layering and invention)

They sported crusty, white dreads and found it easier to base their songs of restless travel around American badlands rather than their native Berkshire. “Been driving for days….but the radio still plays”. I found myself standing next to the singer once at the Camden Falcon (curiously at one of our own gigs, but I don’t think we were playing at the time….unless I was using a long lead and had mastered the art of walking, talking and playing at the same time. No chance of that then. It must have been a soundcheck.) and badgered him for details of what would be their first lp. He was less than forthcoming. I still thought they were great

I saw them twice, (Barrell organ Birmingham probably 1990 and Dudley JB’s ’93) and was a bit disappointed both times…but the sounds and possibilities of those first 3 releases are still hard to beat.

The Kevin Rowland track is from the cruelly and incorrectly derided album My Beauty. The album is his post therapy record and although some vocals are a bit karaoke, there are some fantastic moments. I love the vocal asides on this track. At one point the backing vocals are aah aaahing away and Kev says “You hear that beautiful choir…They’re singing for you….They’re singing the truth….It’s yours…Go on, take it”

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

'Podlist - Most Recently Played

The twenty most recently played songs from the Shuffle Menu of my part filled and partial I Pod.
The miracle of the shuffle meant I didn’t know what I’d hear next. The miracle of filing and loading my albums alphabetically means that it’s probably from artists A-E.

Everybody Needs Somebody James Carr
Winter Teenage Fanclub
Growin’Up David Bowie
Here There And Everywhere The Beatles
Never Learn Not To Love Beach Boys
Kung Fu Ash
Jocko Homo Devo
Girl From Mars Ash
Shes’s Alive Barracudas
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds Beatles
Womens Realm Belle And Sebastian
Shake Your Money Black Grape
Detroit 442 (Live) Blondie
Soul Deep Box Tops
One Hundred Years Byrds
Sugar ‘n’ Spike Captain Beefheart
Andy Warhol David Bowie
To The Other Woman (I’m The Other Woman) Doris Duke
Self Service Eddie And Ernie
You Little Fool Elvis Costello

Growin’Up is Bowie’s previously unreleased cover of the Bruce Springsteen song from the 30th anniversary reissue of Diamond Dogs. It’s a winner, but doesn’t really count as surprise treat because I only bought it a couple of months ago and have been playing it regularly since.

One Hundred Years has most of the boxes ticked for being great. It scores highly for Gram Parson’s involvement alone.

The real pleasure of the shuffle though is the song that you haven’t heard or thought of for ages….and then it’s there for you. This time round that song was James Carr’s Everybody Needs Somebody. A song that starts with a simple guitar and horn riff that builds to majesty and ends in heartbreak. Southern Soul genius.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

I Pod

There are few things that I’ve ever wanted (and most of them aren’t metal and plastic) quite as much as an I Pod. I’ve spent the last 2 years gradually removing the obstacles (cash and a pc in need of an upgrade) but it was my birthday that actually produced the goods. For the last 6 weeks I’ve been frantically loading tracks onto it. I’m up to 6500 now.

It’s also brought a Proud Dad moment. One night I was happily loading Lp’s and listening to the first track of each album. I’d said to my boys that they could each have their own playlist with any tracks that they had heard and liked.

“I like this one” said 5 year old Alex. And so this beautiful child with, his big trusting eyes and cheery nature took his first wobbly steps into the world of pop. And the track he chose for the start of this momentous journey? Obviously that would be Debaser by the Pixies.