I Swear I Saw Her Angel Wing

The Stone Roses’ Second Coming was not as bad as critics painted it, but some of it isn’t that good either. It’s best songs -Breaking Into Heaven, Ten Storey Love Song, Love Spreads, Begging You- have tons of guitars, and huge drums and bass, but ultimately work because of Ian Brown’s vocals. I’ve been pretty critical of Ian Brown and his solo career especially in the past, but the Zepness of Second Coming with a singer who could squeel and hit all the notes would turn it into just another rock album. Ian’s limitations make the songs work, so fair play to the monkey king- especially as he’s said he didn’t like most of the songs and sang some of them under extreme duress. The vocal to Tears is the guide vocal. Apparently Ian said he wouldn’t sing it again even with a gun to his head. This song, Tightrope, is my favourite off the album and for some reason it was playing in my head when I woke up today, all smokey campfire singalong, lazy acoustic guitars, some cracking backing vox (Reni presumably) and one of those John Squire lyrics that are a hymn to a woman. It’s just about the only song on the album where they sound like a band, all in the room at the same time. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s how I hear it.

Tightrope.mp3

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Pink And Black

Some weekend rockabilly for Saturday morning (although I’m mainly grooving to various bits of dub around our corners of the internet at the moment). This is Pink And Black by Texas rocker Sonny Fisher, and looking at the picture I wouldn’t want to spill his pint. Or even look at it.

14 Pink And Black.wma

Roar Roar Like A Dungeon Dragon

One of the best things about doing this blog for me has been how it’s led me back to some stuff I haven’t listened to for years, decades even. The recent Pharcyde and Public Enemy posts being two examples- it’s years and years since I deliberately put on any hip-hop, and I haven’t gone mad and started wearing my jeans really low or nodding my head slowly while driving the car or anything, but the door has re-opened slightly. This is another great piece of early 90s hip-hop from A Tribe Called Quest’s second album The Low End Theory. I’m sure a lot of work went into recording, sampling (Hendrix, Kool And The Gang, The Ohio Players, Jack McDuff, and The Emotions), arranging and writing this track, but over a great bassline it just sounds like seven men standing around a microphone and making rhymes about whatever comes to mind- effortlessly cool.

14 – A Tribe Called Quest – Scenario featuring L.O.N.S..mp3

Protect And Survive

We had a family day out yesterday to Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker, near Nantwich in Cheshire. Let no-one say we don’t show our kids a good time. The bunker is not so secret any more, there are signs for miles around, but this lump of concrete and underground passageways and rooms would’ve been where parts of north-west England were run in the aftermath of a nuclear attack. It’s all quite spooky- press offices and a radio room for broadcasts, early warning systems, horribly dated computers and phones, desks for top ranking civil servants and ministry officials, decontamination suits and areas, geiger counters, a dormitory with bunk beds. Chilling posters, wall charts and documents about casualties, food dumps, walking wounded, death rates. That Protect And Survive film playing. Gives you a shiver. In the shop you can buy Cold War relics and artefacts, Hack Green pencils, the Protect And Survive leaflet from 1980, and Hack Green snowdomes with the snow replaced by fallout. Yep, we bought one. The place was deemed redundant in 1993, sold off, and has become a macabre tourist attraction. Recommended if you’re in the area.

One of the displays was the exact piece of equipment that Thatcher used to order the sinking of the Belgrano during the Falklands War. The Belgrano was sailing away from the Falklands exclusion zone but was sunk regardless. I remember this clearly at the time as an eleven year old, knowing at some level this was wrong, one of the first events that began to politicise me (followed fairly quickly by the miners’ strike a year or two later).

It all made me think of this track, by an obscure Creation act- Jetstream by Pacific. It was on the cut-price Creation sampler Doing For The Kids from 1988, which I’ve bought on cassette and vinyl (twice). This song has some sweet acoustic guitars, some polite electronics, boy-girl vocals and samples from parliament about the sinking of the Argentine ship. I know little about them, and the net doesn’t turn up much. I think at some point a friend taped their album for me, but it’s long gone, leaving us with this indie anomoly- one part of the 80s which hasn’t been revived recently.

11 – Pacific – Jetstream.mp3#2#2

So He’s Lying On Top Again

In fact, having listened to yesterday’s Belly song Feed The Tree and this one Gepetto back to back (both off their 1993 album Star), I think this one may be even better. Just pressing play makes getting up at the end of October worthwhile.

gepetto.mp3

Johnny Marr News And Stuff

Local hero, Bagging Area role model (haircuts, dress sense, beautifully inventive guitar playing- OK maybe not the guitar playing. Don’t manage the haircuts that well either) and all round good guy Johnny Marr has contributed a track to a download only compilation for the homeless charity Centrepoint. If you head on over to centrepoint.org.uk you can find his cover of the 1969 Rabbit Mackay song Tendency To Be Free, and download it for 99 pence. All the tracks on the album are from 1969, the year the charity was founded. I’d never heard of Rabbit Mackay before, and while the original is on youtube I’ve not been able to find an mp3 of it to post, which was my intention and I’m not posting Johnny’s cover, cos it’s for charity innit. Johnny applies some blistering guitar, a cool bassline and some good vox, ending up with a stomping, abrasive song which is well worth just under a quid of your money.

Johnny Marr’s charitable work has directly impacted on my family. My son I.T., who has various needs (severe learning difficulties, severe deafness, skeletal problems, various other things, is currently going through puberty- we have some interesting times at the moment!) used to attend Pictor School, a special needs primary school in Timperley. It goes without saying it’s a fantastic school, and when I.T. left to go on to secondary this year tears were shed all round. Johnny Marr’s nephew attends the school, and a few years back Johnny and the U.S. trainer firm PF Fliers put out a limited edition signature pump, sold on ebay with proceeds split between Pictor School and an Autism charity. That’s a picture of one of them up at the top. Obviously I bought a pair. It was funny how someone whose records I’d bought since the mid 80s and followed avidly had this link to my life and our son. Johnny popped in at the school at least once, and promised to come back and play guitar with the kids- I’d love to have seen I.T. playing guitar with one of my heroes, and questioning him relentlessly about what day his binmen come, which supermarket he shops at and whether he uses the bus or the tram (all I.T. obsessions).

So, without rambling on too much more, I’m not posting the Rabbit Mackay cover but you can have this instead, Johnny Marr covering Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright. This was given away with an issue of Uncut magazine back in 2005. A decent acoustic cover version with some good harmonica- and it’s not often I get to type that.

Johnny Marr – Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.mp3#1#1

Take Your Hat Off Boy When You’re Talking To Me

Lovely US indie hit from 1993 from Tanya Donelly’s Belly- an ode to mortality and respecting your woman, wrapped in a great tune and with some chiming guitars. Belly called it a day in 1996 after taking Radiohead on tour with them and themselves supporting superstar era REM. Tanya Donelly continues to record as a solo artist, leaving Belly’s back catalogue stuffed with little gems like this one and it’s follow up Gepetto.

01 Feed the Tree.wma