Neu! Time

Krautrock (or kosmiche as it gets called now) has a reputation for being a bit difficult, a challenging listen, but much of Neu!’s output is like aural valium for me. I listened to Hallogallo the other day and felt considerably better for it- especially as at the moment the slightest thing has a tendency to make me feel like I’m about to lose it completely, swearing like a docker and stomping like a bull elephant. I’ve posted Hallogallo before so instead here’s Isi instead- from Neu! ’75, all piano and lovely warm analogue electronics with that good ole motorik drumming.


Amusingly years ago I had two of the three Neu! albums (Neu!, Neu!2 and Neu! ’75) and found the one I didn’t have on vinyl in HMV (which tells you it was a long time ago). I bought it, got it home and realised it was one I already had, so had to return to HMV and tell the man ‘uh, um, I bought this. And I’ve already got it, can I change it for something else?’ He looked at me like I was a total fuckwit- ‘You bought it and you’ve already got it?’ ‘Yes. The sleeves are quite similar. And the song titles are all in German. And I couldn’t remember which of their albums I’d got…’ He did let me change it. Out of pity mainly. And my statutory rights.

Beatnik Time

Altrincham used to have a couple of record shops but in recent years has had none. Last Saturday, Record Shop Day, a new record shop opened- Beatnik Shop. I popped down yesterday with the wife and kids in tow. It’s a cracking little shop, opposite the covered market and next door to the Belgian Bar (which could be handy). In their first week they’ve been in The Guardian and been visited by Mike Joyce. Not only does Beatnik Shop sell records (mainly second hand, a few RSD ones hanging around- mostly Aerosmith, unsold for some reason) but it also does coffee, tea and cakes, which bought me ten minutes rummaging time. There’s a good amount of 80s indie and punk, 60s and 70s psych, folk and weirdness, pots of funk and soul, some wooden boxes with cds in and several boxes of 7″ singles (Northern soul, indie etc). The range and quality shows it’s stocked by people who know their stuff. They’re promising in-shop performances and this Friday an evening in conversation with music journalist and writer Paul du Noyer. All in all a welcome addition to Altrincham, a town which has been on it’s arse for a couple of years to be honest. I hope they manage to make it work. I will be back regularly I suspect. After a while I found a vinyl copy of John Betjeman’s Banana Blush lp and scraped together the three quid required. The last song on it is this…

A Child Ill

Face Time

I used to love The Face. Between the late 80s and early 00s I bought almost every copy (and many of them are in the loft, awaiting a good sifting through). Yes, it was silly, pretentious, over-the-top, often very London-centric, and over-styled. But it was also done well, trend setting, at times laugh-out-loud funny, with some really good writers, totally hit the spot at times (and completely missed the target other times), covered issues as well as music and fashion, and its front cover felt like an event- in short essential monthly reading, a frippery but worth it.

Above, the Madchester issue, in which Nick Kent made up quotes various interviewees allegedly said… and below Tricky and Martina Topley Bird

I bought a copy in summer 1987, a double sized, special edition, 100th issue I think. It tried to review the 80s- ‘whatever happens now’ it said, ‘the decade is shaped, nothing can alter the way it looks from here’. Arf. Over the next two years acid house swept the nation, the north rose again, the Berlin Wall came down, Communism collapsed…. 

The pleasure of reading old magazines is seeing where they got it right and where they got it very, very wrong; the bands, records, trends and styles they were sure were the next big thing and are now buried in the ‘where are they now?’ file. I mean, no disrespect to The Farm (who at times I quite like) and I know Groovy Train was a big hit but ‘How to succeed in the music business’? 

Whatever it did though, The Face was rarely boring and for a while it did document our lives (or aspects of them). 
Raving, Aliens, Vodka, Discos, Ibiza… it’s got the lot.

                                                                 Mmmmmmm, Kylie.

                                                     Sorry, lost myself there for a moment…

                                         Actually I don’t remember this 90s Futures Issue one at all.

I more or less stopped buying it with this issue below- I was clearly too old for it, our time together had passed and besides I began to feel they were laughing at me.

The High Numbers (early Who as I’m sure you know). I was going to post the magnificent Face Up by New order from Lowlife but it’s not on my hard drive and I can’t be arsed ripping it at the moment. Laziness. Sorry. This is good anyway.

I’m The Face

Monotony In Germany

It’s great when you get a compilation album (Treasure Hunting in this case), put it on your portable device, and then one of the tracks you’ve not really paid attention to appears on the shuffle and it sounds good. This is bit of a thumping dance track from Spaniard Marc Pinol, with a sequenced bass line and a funky little guitar riff that appears after the breakdown and a Speak ‘n’ Spell voice intoning ‘monotony in Germany’, pronouncing monotony as ‘mon-o-tone-e’. I thought Dirk and Walter might appreciate the sentiment at the least.

Monotony In Germany

The Return Of Friday Night Is Rockabilly Night 102

A rockabilly revival act for Friday this week- Jack Rabbit Slim blasting it out with a Telecaster guitar sound that’s straight from The Johnny Burnette Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio and a throat stripping vocal performance. Makes me want to go out to a rockabilly party and drink and dance til dawn. If I had any money. And if such a party existed in Sale. Maybe we should have it here- you’re all invited.

Long Time Dead

And as a quiffy extra some live footage…

B Is For Black Affair

Steve Mason’s 2009 side project Black Affair was an 80s electro inspired project, which was great in small doses but wore a bit over the course of an entire lp. Still, in a field of his own is Steve Mason- most people wouldn’t record let alone release an album like this, so far removed from what he’s known for. This was one of the highlights.


In a slightly belated tribute to United’s 20th league title our picture shows Bobby Charlton, presumably in the aftermath of the Munich air disaster or an early anniversary of, with a cracking quiff. Bobby was present as a player for United’s 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th league titles and he’s still there, although he doesn’t make the netting bulge anymore. The Premier League is a million miles from this picture. Yesterday’s post-Beta Band group The Aliens had a song called Bobby’s Song which I should’ve posted instead really.

A Is For Aliens

Some of The Beta Band turned into The Aliens following their break-up. A million pounds owed to the record company and being pressured to accept advertising money to clear the debt, Steve Mason called time. Which caused some friction between the band’s members. Steve Mason went off into various solo projects (King Biscuit Time, Black Affair, stuff under his own name). The other three, John MacLean, Gordon Anderson and Robin Jones, put out two albums of upbeat, psychedelic silliness (in a good way)- I’ve only got Luna from which I always liked this one.

Sunlamp Show

B Is For Beta

Listening to Steve Mason’s recent solo album has led me back to The Beta Band. They were real one offs- maybe the only reason their second and third albums aren’t given their dues is because they set their standards so high early on with the three e.p.s, later anthologised imaginatively as The Three E.P.s.

I drove to Leeds Irish Centre to see them play at some point in the late 90s, on a school night as well. We’d got free entry by claiming to be reviewing the gig for a Manchester music/arts magazine or something on those lines. It was hotter than hot inside- the sort of heat where you can feel beads of sweat running down the inside of your arm and the small of your back. This made moving difficult. And I was driving, so couldn’t attack the heat with beer. Carl from Cud stood at the bar, his time long gone. The Beta Band were out of this world that night, versions of spooky trauma song Dr Baker and the trippy Needles In Your Eyes sticking in the memory for ages afterwards. And Dry The Rain of course.

Dry The Rain

Going Back To My Roots

Richie Havens, RIP.

I think we can all agree that this is one of those tunes. It was big round these parts.

Czech It Out

Julius Fucik was a Czech journalist and member of the Communist Party who was part of the resistance against the Nazis. He was imprisoned, tortured and killed by them in 1943. He has an untouchable national hero staus in the Czech Republic. And that is a really nice jacket he’s wearing. I’m sure I shouldn’t boil historical events and figures down to their dress but it is a really nice jacket.

British Sea Power are one of those bands who I like but who as someone said on Twitter recently have never completely lived up to their brilliant name. They look fantastic in their 30s mountaineering garb and with branches and stuffed animals on stage. It’s good when bands make an effort and BSP have always made an effort even if the songs have occasionally underwhelmed a little. This single, which is lovely by the way, was a limited edition release in 2004 and put out only in the Czech Republic and available at some gigs. It was produced in a run of 1942 copies (this being the year Nazi officer Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated by two Czech agents). The vocals are by Katerina Winterova of Czech band The Ecstacy Of Saint Theresa and the B-sides are both in Czech. Czech it out.

A Lovely Day Tomorrow