Brown Low

While visiting the Strawberry Studios exhibition at Stockport museum a while back I found a reference to a prehistoric site in the hills above Stockport. I don’t know what the Venn diagram of people interested in Factory Records and people interested in prehistoric sites looks like but I like to imagine there are other people out there who can get excited about both. Yesterday, with Mrs Swiss a bit under the weather, I offered the kids an afternoon out- let it never be said I don’t show my children a good time. We set out to find Mellor, a village in the hills near Marple, which has an iron age hill fort. Taking a slightly circuitous route (we went the wrong way, yes), including a detour into New Mills (‘handy for the hills’ as Nigel Blackwell remarked) we found the hill fort complete with a reconstructed iron age round house. Less than a mile north is Brown Low barrow (pictured above), an iron age burial site that involved a bit of a walk uphill through a field. From the top of the hills at both sites we got amazing views over Manchester, Cheshire and out to Liverpool (Liverpool cathedral just visible on the horizon though probably not in the shot below).

Back at the start of the year Little Barrie released a single called Love Or Love. This stunning piece of psyche-rock was the B-side.

(Nothing Will) Eliminate

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Any Frontier Any Hemisphere

Traditionally a British camping trip should combine sunburn with hours of pouring rain and this one delivered on both. Friday evening was gorgeous, the tail end of a day where the temperature gauge in my car read 30 degrees when I left work. Saturday afternoon was spent around and in a tarn on top of a hill near Water Yeat before at 3.30 pm the heavens opened and it rained all night. Sunday gave us sunshine and sunburn around Coniston Water followed by more rain of biblical proportions yesterday. But its definitely worth getting away from the world, going offline and spending evenings sitting round a fire drinking booze and talking bollocks with friends, especially so after the events of the past week. A dripping wet tent that needs to be dried out is a small price to pay for living outdoors for a few days.

Back in the music world I’ve been spinning this a few times recently and prompted by my friend Meany offer it for your delectation today, Horace Andy’s cover version of The Clash’s Straight To Hell. I’ve written about Straight To Hell recently, a Strummer song of immigration, refugees, suffering and dislocation. Horace recorded it many years ago but was never happy with the rhythm. A conversation with Eric Blowtorch led to the pair digging the track back out and fixing it (out now, 10% of all proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders and a Big Youth dub on the B-side). This is reggae roots style, Horace’s vocal floating over the organ, bass and drums. Campfire music.

Strummercamp

We’re away this weekend, camping up in the Lake District. If we weren’t I’d be going along to Strummercamp, the annual Joe Strummer bank holiday festival held at Manchester Rugby Club in Cheadle. This year’s line up features Spear Of Destiny, The Membranes, TV Smith and Department X, and good vibes with good people. If you’re nearby and at a loose end, day tickets and weekend tickets are still available. Say hi to DJ Gadge if you see him.

Clash time. This is a ten minute unofficial mix of Bankrobber plus it’s versions Robber Dub and Rockers Galore (with Mikey Dread on the mic), flowing into one another. Turn up the bass.

Bankrobber/Robber Dub/Rockers Galore

Little Flower

Now that the sun has appeared, suddenly and in a blaze of heat and light, this four track ep that Peaking lights put out back in February makes perfect sense. The lead song, Little Flower, has a spoken/chanted vocal by Chloe Sevigny and the music is pure psychedelic-dub- tropical- disco with the emphasis on upbeat repetition. The second track Conga Blue has a similar vibe with a heavily vocodered backing vocal. There’s loads going on to lift the spirits.

Little Flower

Different Days

The Charlatans have a new album out tomorrow, Different Days. The single came out at the end of April, a chiming and clanging guitar led tune with some of the six string magic down to Johnny Marr.

The new album has all kind of special guests on it-Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert from New Order, Paul Weller, Anton Newcombe, Ian Rankin, ACR’s Donald Johnson and Kurt Wagner among them. I hope it doesn’t get weighed down by this multitude of guest stars. The previous album, Modern Nature, was a stunning record, full of songs shot through with sunshine and loss, a band writing their out of tragedy (the death of drummer Jon Brookes). The single above sounds like a Charlatans song to be played on sunny days from your car stereo or heard through open shop doors and windows. That’s good enough for now.

I Can’t Stand By, See You Destroyed

What happened here on Monday night and what we woke up to yesterday morning defies belief in so many ways and it’s difficult to know what to say, especially in a music blog. Equally, it’s hard not to take something like this personally when it happens so close to home. My family and my workplace knew several people at the Ariana Grande show at the MEN on Monday night.

Manchester is one of the most culturally diverse, multi-cultural and inclusive cities in the country. As Dave Haslam said on Twitter yesterday ‘You’ve got the wrong city if you think that hate will tear us apart’. We don’t do small mindedness, racism and intolerance. One deluded, indoctrinated, murderous little fucker does not prove anything about the people we know as our neighbours. Anger and hatred and rage are understandable reactions to the deaths of twenty two people, including children, on a night out to see a gig, but the minute we give in to hate we have lost. We stand together, we feel anger but we love life, we love love and we hate hate.

This song by Doves came to mind and the opening line which gives this post its title. And also this part…

‘We don’t mind
If this don’t last forever
See the light
But it won’t last forever
Seize the time
Cause it’s now or never baby’

Pounding

At times like this football seems like a very small thing in terms of importance but it’s also a massive part of this city’s history and traditions. With any luck tonight United will bring home a European trophy, with a multiracial, multicultural team of young black British Mancunians, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Equadorians, Dutchmen, Italians, Belgians, Armenians and more besides. United we stand.

Nothing But A Heartache

On Saturday night we had a party at a friend’s house. The hostess and myself share a birthday and this year we decided to have a joint celebration. Rather than dj at my own party (which could have been a little anti-social) I set up ┬áthe mobile disco gear and burnt a load of cds, sequenced in the order that seemed right at the time. The first disc was all northern soul, ska and party reggae. This song sounded immense- that horn fanfare and the swell of the vocals. From 1969, it is an amazing tune, sung by The Flirtations, three girls from South Carolina (Ernestine Pearce, Shirley Pearce and Lestine Johnson) but written by the British songwriting team of Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington (who later came up with The Rubettes). But all that is history- the song is all that matters now and if it doesn’t make your heart beat a little bit faster, there’s no hope for you.

Nothing But A Heartache