Johnny Boy ‘You Are the Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve’

7″ single from Liverpool’s Johnny Boy, from 2003. The album was a bit mixed and didn’t set the world on fire, but this is excellent stuff, from it’s opening (not Shangri La’s, I’ve been corrected) Ronette’s drum beat, to the deadpan vocals and shimmering guitars. Produced by James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers as well, which you wouldn’t necessarily guess given it’s lack of histrionics and squeeling guitars. It was also, I think, the Single Of The Month in the last edition of the much missed Jockey Slut magazine.

If you ask Mrs Swiss I am the generation who bought more shoes, so I guess I got what I deserved. A mountain of shoes spilling out from under our bed for one thing…

01 You Are the Generation That Bought More Shoes and You Get What You Dese.wma

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Electronic ‘Forbidden City’

When Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr left their respective bands and announced they were forming, gulp, a supergroup we all expected a holy union of The Smiths and New Order. Which was probably highly unrealistic. Instead we got some perfect pop, some of-the-time but soon dated dance-y stuff and then some guitary stuff which was overworked and uninspired. But they definitely had their moments.

Moment Number 1. Getting Away With It. Perfect pop, with the additional vocals and songwriting of Neil Tennant. Sumptuous.

Moment Number 2. Get The Message. In the spring of 1991 Get The Message seemed to offer a bright new shiny pop music. It pointed a new way forward, with the production of dance music and the talent of two post-punks/indie-kings. It also had a very ravey but good fun B-side, called Free Will. There was a long feature in the NME when they supported Depeche Mode in a stadium in L.A. despite not having finished writing or rehearsing the songs or the set.

Moment Number 3. The first album. Several great songs- Tighten Up (performed by Bad Lieutenant on their recent gigs), Feel Every Beat, Patience Of A Saint, Reality, one or two others, with admittedly a couple of fillers.

Moment Number 4. Live show at Cities In The Park, Tony Wilson’s short lived festival based in Heaton Park. During their last song, just before the Mondays came on, we looked at the stage to see members of New Order, The Smiths and Pet Shop Boys playing together.

Moment Number 5. Disappointed. Good actually.

Moment Number 6. Forbidden City. This song was the lead single for the second album, released in 1996, called Raise The Pressure (mmm, dull title). The album had Johnny playing guitar again, and was co-written by Karl Bartos of Kraftwerk, but this time it all added up to less than the sum of the parts. Too many later period New Order B-sides/album track type stuff, some jangle but little fizz.

This song though was a beauty and is still a joy- perfect guitar pop music, with a typical but outstanding Bernard lyric and vocal about being trapped and wanting to break away, cool-as production, and wonderful guitars. Check out the controlled feedback during the guitar solo. Absolute perfection. If only the rest of the album had matched it. After this there was a slow decline to a third album, appearences on TFI Friday and so on, but briefly and occasionally they burned very brightly.

01 Forbidden City.wma

Friday Night Is Rockabilly Night 14

Bagging Area’s Friday night rockabilly pie this Bank Holiday Weekend comes courtesy of Edwin Bruce, with a slice of country in there beneath it’s crust. He’s best known, apparently, for Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys, but he’s here tonight with his Rock Boppin’ Baby. Hit it Edwin…

Rock Boppin’ Baby.mp3

Mogwai ‘The Sun Smells Too Loud’

One of the best tracks I’ve heard over the last couple of years is this, The Sun Smells Too Loud, off Mogwai’s Hawk Is Howling lp from 2008. I bought Young Team when it came out way back in 1997 featuring the mighty Mogwai Fear Satan, and kind of stayed in touch with them over the years, but wouldn’t pretend to be an all out fan. At some point last year house favourite and sponsor Mr Andrew Weatherall finished one of his 6 Mix shows with this song, and it took the top of my head off. Beautifully controlled guitar playing, huge tom tom drums, rising and falling melodies, intense, exciting, sad yet euphoric blah blah blah. Describing music is really hard sometimes. A seriously great record, and proof that you don’t need vocals or lyrics to make emotional connections in music. Top song name too.

05 The Sun Smells Too Loud.wma

Echolocation ‘Another Thing’

Over the last few years I’ve spent many weekends in Leicester, visiting Mrs Swiss’s sister, her husband and their daughter. It turns out Leicester has a decent live music scene, with several good venues (although indie circuit legend The Charlotte has shut now I believe), and we’ve seen plenty of good bands. Black Carrot from Market Harborough for one, and this lot Echolocation for another. They’ve just released a new album (their second I think) which turned up in the post yesterday (oooh, freebie, hark at me). I’ve met them a couple of times before or after gigs, and they seem like a nice bunch of chaps. Even the bassist.

Plenty of instruments on show here, guitars, keys, horns, cello, they seem to have added another member each time I’ve seen them. This song Another Thing is pretty up-front and direct, featuring a killer guitar riff, a little attitude and frontman Pete’s Mark E. Smith-esque delivery. See what you think.

another thing.wma

Del Shannon ‘Gemini’ Pilooski Re-edit

Back at the start of Bagging Area I featured the original version of this, Del Shannon’s Gemini, a lost baroque/psyche/pop classic from 1968. A song in praise of the elusive Gemini, ‘always heavy on my mind, blue eyes’, in the way those girls always seem to have been in the late 60s. This is French wonderkid Pilooski’s re-edited version and it’s arguably better than Del’s- faster, toughened up, dance floor drums, cut-up vox in parts, stretched out, but retaining Del’s otherness and great vocal. Superb.

The Charlatans ‘Sproston Green’

I really like this and I don’t think it’s entirely nostalgia. Sproston Green was the mini-epic that closed their first album, Some Friendly (recently re-mastered, with extra tracks. And a tacky badge probably). It closed their gigs in 1989 as well, and was a swirl of Hammond organ, guitars and Tim Burgess’s ode to a girl/place in leafy Cheshire, and it sounds quaint but great twenty years on. Sounded cool live too, like a little brother of I Am The Resurrection. That’s not meant to sound snide.

You wouldn’t have put much money on them still being around two decades later, and as well as being ‘survivors’, the press had them tagged as ‘the unluckiest band in Britain’- they shed guitarist Jon, temporarily lost the bassist Martin to depression, lost the Hammond player Rob permanently to a car crash, and sued their manager for missing money. Then Tim decided to move to L.A. They also sometimes seemed a bit, well, lightweight. In the early-to-mid nineties whenever I heard a new song by them I’d think ‘that sounds OK, next time they’ll be great’. I’m not sure it happened. They got caught up in Britpop, and made Tellin’ Stories, which had some strong songs and good vocals but lost the naive psyche-organ led charm of their earlier stuff. But I came to praise them not bury them, and this is good ‘un.

The Charlatans_01_10_Sproston Green (re-mastered).mp3