For Just One Moment In Time

This is a song I keep going back to at the moment, listening and then skipping back to the start, the opener to Simple Minds’ 1981 album Sons And Fascination. Never was there I band for whom the phrase ‘I prefer their early stuff’ is so appropriate. Their early stuff is among the best music of the era (and their later stuff really isn’t). Empires And Dance and New Gold Dream are both superb too but this one is the one for me.

In Trance As Mission starts with a Derek Forbes bassline, one of many on the album that personify post-punk bass playing, along with a rigid drumbeat. The synths are central not merely providing colour or filling the sound out. Guitarist Charlie Burchill plays one note throughout, ringing with feedback. A long way to start an album, nearly seven minutes, Jim Kerr singing about moments, the holy back beat, trance as mission, trans American, white rocks, dreams, a new type of light, all the post-punk poetics. Religion maybe. The combined effect is thrilling, dramatic, forward thinking. Top stuff from a band who later on went for the money over the art but certainly paid their dues as far as art is concerned

In Trance As Mission

Sons And Fascination is a great album and a curious one too, packaged with a second disc of songs called Sister Feelings Call (which includes Theme For Great Cities, a song which most bands would kill to have written and which Kerr showed admirable restraint in deciding it didn’t need vocals). Not a traditional double album, an album with an extra disc of songs. Ideas galore, loads of ambition and songs to spare.

We Never Compromise

Mancunian artist LoneLady has released a cover of New Order’s 1981 B-side Cries And Whispers. Her sound and aesthetic are partially rooted in those early 80s New Order records and Manchester’s spirit of those times- her last album was inspired by walking round the concrete and streetlight spaces underneath the Mancunian Way (a section of elevated motorway that skims the southern edge of the city centre). I don’t always like covers of New Order songs but this is a keeper.

The original was one of two B-sides on 1981’s Everything’s Gone Green single, a song that skipped the group forward several paces, the moment when they combined rock and dance for the first time on disc and the last time they worked with Martin Hannett. The two songs on the flipside- Cries And Whispers and Mesh- were mislabelled on the disc and then again on Substance, causing confusion for years. One listen to this song, the synth sounds at the intro, the skittering rhythm, Barney’s bleak vocal, Stephen’s metronomic drumming and the swell of keyboards towards the end, should convince anyone that New Order were a class apart from around this point onwards and for most of the 80s.

Cries And Whispers


Monday’s Long Song

At only six minutes forty-three seconds this isn’t an especially long song but it came up on shuffle over the weekend and sounded immense. Released back in 1983 this is Colourbox’s magnificent take on Baby I Love You So, an Augustus Pablo song from 1974 recorded by Jacob Miller, but updated by Martyn and Stephen Young making the most of early 80s technology- it doesn’t sound dated all these years later either, that bassline alone is worth the price of admission. The guitar part is ace, not your standard reggae guitar part, the cymbals splash away and Lorita Grahame’s vocal glides over the top.

Baby I Love You So (12″ Version)


It’s my birthday today- the number above.

Madness were a lot of fun on Friday night. I won precisely nothing betting on the horses. Suggs and saxophonist Lee Thompson are a great pair of frontmen (Chas Smash left a few years ago). The set was as you’d expect heavy on the hits, a run of songs pretty much unparalleled in British popular music plus a couple from their more recent albums, a mass singalong for It Must be Love and an encore of Madness (the song) and Night Boat To Cairo which saw outbreaks of pandemonium in the crowd. I was going to post this on Friday but didn’t so here it is as a bonus, a deliciously skanking, dubby Andrew Weatherall remix of Madness from 2012. I’m sure that there was a second version of this, a dubbier one, that’s never been released that Weatherall played on one of his radio shows.

Death Of A Rude Boy (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Looking for songs with 49 in the title I fond this one from The Jazz Butcher, released on Creation in 1988, a spiky, ramshackle, catchy indie guitar song from Pat Fish that rattles along breathlessly, surfacing for the ‘you make me want to carry on’ line. This sort of thing seemed ten a penny in 1988 but like genuine moments of mini- greatness now. I first heard it on the Creation compilation Doing It For The Kids, a brilliant example of the art of the compilation album (The Jasmine Minks, The House Of Love, My Bloody Valentine, Felt, Primal Scream, Pacific, The Times, Nikki Sudden and The Weather Prophets plus several others showing Creation had an embarrassment of riches at the time). The Jazz Butcher’s Lot 49 references a novel by Thomas Pynchon which I feel like I should have read but haven’t.

Lot 49

Sonic Boom In The Pink Room

Sonic Boom played The Pink Room at YES, Manchester’s newest gig venue, on Wednesday night in a small upstairs space called the Pink Room (it’s painted pink and has a bit of a Warhol/Factory vibe going on). The room holds about 250 people and the gig wasn’t sold out. The post- Spacemen 3 trajectories of Pete Kember and Jason Pierce are a bit mystifying, Spiritualized playing grand venues to thousands while Sonic Boom/Spectrum plays to the low hundreds. It gives a better gig experience though if you prefer intimate and up close but you can’t help but feel Pete has been shortchanged somewhere along the line.

Sonic takes the stage with one other musician, a guitarist with long, centre parted hair who is wearing a Spacemen 3 t-shirt. Without much in the way of introductions he begins playing the riff to Transparent Radiation, Spacemen 3’s cover of The Red Krayola’s 60s psyche- rock classic. After this slow, repetitious opener Pete doesn’t play guitar again until the end, instead sitting at a table with keyboards, synths, a sampler and an array of pedals, cables, leads and plug ins. From hereon in Sonic digs deep into his bag and plays a selection of songs from his back catalogue- long, slow, hypnotic tracks, loops and drones from the various boxes on the table, all sorts of delay and echo going on. One song often melts into another, the pedals continuing to give out their sounds, loads of tremelo and wobble, as one ends and the next begins. We get All Night Long and Lord I Don’t Even Know My Name from two different Spectrum albums, Spacemen 3’s Call The Doctor and Let Me Down Gently, all perfectly illustrating Sonic’s talents, lyrics that are either melancholic or devotional over the top of undulating synths and waves of sound, drones and loops and repetition. There’s no drummer so the songs never get that injection of oomph and power a drummer brings, instead they glide by complemented by the trippy visuals projected onto the back wall. In the middle of the set Sonic starts manipulating a vocal sample. The set list website says this was during I Know They Say (from Spectrum’s Highs Lows And Heavenly Blows) but I don’t recall that song being the basis of what becomes very improvisational, Sonic constantly triggering the vocal sample, stuttering it, repeating phrases, building in intensity on and on, for what must have been ten or fifteen minutes. He goes back to the guitar for the penultimate song, a fairly blistering take on Suicide’s Che. Pete then tells us something along the lines of ‘this is where we fuck off back stage for a few minutes, you clap and then we come back out but that’s bollocks so we’re just going to keep playing’. He fiddles with a few boxes, sets them going for a finale of Big City (Everybody I Know Can Be Found Here), the highlight of Spacemen 3’s Recurring album and the band’s last single, Sonic’s psychedelic, acid house influenced peak- the pedals and synth pumping the song out, the guitarist using an e-bow to play the top line  and Sonic leaning in to deliver and repeat the lines, ‘everybody I know can be found here/ let the good times roll/ waves of joy/ yeah I love you too’, for fifteen blissed out, mesmerising minutes. Waves of joy indeed. I wish he’d tour more often.

This is the ten minute version of Big City from back in 1991, still sounding magnificent nearly thirty years later.

Big City (Everybody I Know Can Be Found Here)

And this is a 1992 single by Spectrum, also off their album Soul Kiss (Glide Divine) out the same year.

How You Satisfy Me

Take Time For Your Pleasure

I’m off to Aintree Racecourse tonight, not a sentence I use very often- or ever before. This is a work team night out, an evening of horse racing, gambling (remember kids- stop when the fun stops) and Madness. As in, Madness, the Nutty Boys, the Los Palmas 7, Suggs and co. Back in 1983 as a callow thirteen year old the first gig I ever attended was Madness and The JoBoxers at Manchester Apollo and I haven’t seen them since so there will be a nice completing of the circle. I’ve never been to the races before either and have a history of occasionally getting dress codes wrong at events where the words ‘smart’ and ‘casual’ are used in the same sentence.

The Wings Of A Dove was a standalone single in 1983, a time when even the now lesser known Madness songs were huge hits. One of my younger brothers was a Madness obsessive as a kid and still knows all their UK chart positions by heart. I use Google. This one reached number two.

The Wings Of A Dove


May must be a prime time for throwing your art out into the world, this is the fourth new music post in less than a week here. Today’s new music alert is from Lee Scratch Perry who has an album out at the end of the month, recorded with Adrian Sherwood at the controls. Rainford is a personal, autobiographical record recorded in bursts over two years in London, Jamaica and Brazil. Sherwood describes it as the strongest set of Scratch songs for years and set out with the intention of doing for the Upsetter what Rick Rubin did for Johnny Cash. The lead single Let It Rain goes some way to fulfilling those aims, catchy as you like and sounding like a song for the summer. The album can be pre-ordered at Bandcamp.