Monday’s Long Song

Monday’s long song this week comes from The Woodentops and an unreleased version of their song Give It Time, a single and album track in 1986 but constructed and mixed by Arthur Baker in ’85. Clocking in at 7 minutes 34 it’s not actually that long I suppose but most of Rolo’s songs were around the 3 minute mark, rapid strumming and double time percussion making everything feel pretty quick. This one takes things more gently, Baker finding the space and a slower tempo. Those acoustic guitars are still there and some extended percussive sections. Lovely stuff from a band with a back catalogue full of the same.

Give It Time (Arthur Baker Mix)

People often lament The Woodentops failure to ‘make it’. Rolo said the following at his Facebook page recently in response to a comment that they deserved to have been more successful…

‘Back then I could not have been more busy. So many people before my eyes, insane huge crowds and banging indoor venues. More planes than trains and endless miles, the pressure was intense and I lost it many a time. I wasn’t always a happiness machine. Usually but not always. I never actually began a band with the intention of being in the charts, I wanted to do something and just hoped some people might enjoy as much as I. All the ambition was directed at trying to get the band tight and convincing like the music I listen too. I wanted to add something to the sound of the town. So when it got to risking your life literally, to get to a tv station on the other side of Europe in continuous heavy rain in the fast lane, I noted that moment. Death by self promotion! Also by not being part of any scene, coming up with totally different ideas for more songs that intentionally didn’t sound like ones we already had, we are hard to promote so we never would be a typical chart act. We fell into them for a bit sure. Mainly though it was international alternative charts which I would prefer to be in. I know we have songs out there that have influenced or been included in new musical movements, excerpts in films and tv, mentions in books and all sorts. David Bowie bought all the records we made and loved them and told me so. So I feel success came our way. I’m a happy chappy and alive. So I’m saying it’s cool if we didn’t or haven’t headlined Wembley stadium. We play too fast for there anyway. You wouldn’t be able to hear a thing’.

All of which made me smile.

I Was Standing By The Ocean When I Saw Your Face

Released the same year as yesterday’s Shark Vegas song New Order put out two non-album singles in 1987, True Faith and Touched By The Hand Of God. True Faith was the chart smash, the crossover hit with the award winning video but Touched… has long been its equal to these ears. The juddering synth bass intro was written by Hooky, waiting around for the others to arrive at their rehearsal studio, their timekeeping being a long standing gripe of Hooky’s. Tellingly in Substance Hooky notes that ‘Barney was happy with it’. From there on in the full band contributed to fleshing it out. Originally Touched… was recorded for the soundtrack of the film Salvation!, a parody of televangelism (a straight to VHS release). New Order recorded several other songs for the soundtrack and then had Arthur Baker remix Touched… for its release in December 1987 as a single. There’s an effortlessness about it, synth-pop disco brilliance, which makes it favourite of mine, Hooky’s bass well represented and Bernard’s lyrics seeming to carry the weight of personal experience.

Touched By The Hand Of God

Kathryn Bigelow’s video, shot at their Cheetham Hill studio and intercut with MTV video pisstake snippets, is a hoot- all the group dressed as a hair metal band (and Hooky in his normal clothes).

I’m sure if, like me, you were there at the time, you really don’t need me to tell you that this single is 30 years old and that, as people like to point out, in 1987 a single that was 30 years old then would have been released in 1957 and etc etc. Where did the last 3 decades go? When did we all get so old?

We Always Hang In A Buffalo Stance

One of the late 80s most infectious singles, sung by the gorgeous Neneh Cherry, produced by Bomb The Bass’ Tim Simenon and here remixed by Arthur Baker. He stretches it out, adds a house drum groove and chops up the vocal at the end.

Buffalo Stance was a big hit for Neneh in 1989. Originally it had been a B-side to a  poor 1986 single called Looking Good Diving by Jaime Morgan and Cameron McVey, produced and put out by PWL. Nick Kamen later covered it too, for extra awfulness. Given all of that it’s amazing that such a good single was the end result. Cameron McVey became Mr Neneh Cherry in 1990- and as far as I know, he still is today.

Buffalo Stance (Nearly Neue Beat)

Party People

Inside this giant mobile mirror ball is Graham Massey, once/currently of 808 State. In front of the mirror ball are a New Orleans style marching band called Mr Wilson’s Secondliners accompanying him on brass and percussion as he spins house classics through the streets of Manchester, as part of yesterday’s Manchester Day parade. Now in its eighth year the parade was played out this year in standard Mancunian weather- blazing sunshine, thirty-odd degrees heat. Even just standing still was a sweaty business. As the parade finished in Exchange Square, Massey and his band kept the party going a little longer with a wonderfully ramshackle version of Planet Rock.

Planet Rock