Run Run

A friend posted this tune on social media yesterday. I could place the title but not how it went. A lot of Bandulu’s mid 90s techno worked very well at the time but does sound, two decades later, very thump-thump-thump techno. Bandulu were also capable of moments of ambient magic and Run Run is one of them, a righteous piece of ambient dub from their 1994 ep Presence (and 1994 album Antimatters) with a vocal from John O’Connell. The dub swirls and storm clouds gather. A piano fades in and out. Smoke bubbles. Half time, off beat rhythm. Seven minutes where all is good.

Run Run

The picture was taken on a visit the other weekend to Mellor, in the hills above Stockport. I read a reference to an iron age hill fort and burial mound up there, out beyond Marple Bridge but before you get to New Mills (Half Man Half Biscuit once told us ‘No frills, handy for the hills, that’s the way you spell New Mills’ and this caused some excitement when we detoured through it, as you can imagine). The photo was taken within the boundary of the hill fort, partially excavated, looking back towards Manchester. You can see for miles, way beyond the city and out to Cheshire and Merseyside. A 5 minute drive away, down the dip and up again, is the field where the barrow is (sadly on private land so not accessible but visible). We stood on the hillside looking at the same landscape, give or take a large city, that local people 10, 000 years ago would have been looking at.

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Various Artists

I was having a conversation online recently about the wonders of the Various Artists compilation album, which at certain times has been a real work of art. There are others I could go on about at some length but these are the three that immediately come to mind, all released within a few years of each other (and all tied together as well).

I’ve written before about Creation Records 1991 dance/house compilation Keeping The Faith but it is a perfect example, a well put together round up of similar minded artists and tracks defining a moment in time. From the opening minutes where Fluke take off on a Pan Am to Philly through to Hypnotone, a pair of Primal Scream remixes, Weatherall’s definitive remix of My Bloody Valentine, Love Corporation, J.B.C., Sheer Taft, Danny Rampling’s The Sound Of Shoom and World Unite here isn’t a duff track and it is full of great moments. The Tears For Fears sample in J.B.C.’s cover of We Love You sums up how far Creation Records have shifted in 1991- ‘dj’s the man you love the most’. World Unite by World Unite is a majestic ambient house dub excursion- bubbling synths, up vocals with an eye on the dancefloor. The only thing I know about World Unite is that it was written by Potter and Stacey. And I love it still.

World Unite

In the mid-to-late 80s Creation excelled at budget compilations, often a way to keep the wolf from the door and keep the cash coming in. At a knock down price of £1.99 1988’s Doing It For The Kids was an essential purchase- The Jasmine Minks, Felt, Primal Scream (early indie version), The Weather Prophets (their song Well Done Sonny is below), The House Of Love, The Jazz Butcher, Biff Bang Pow!, My Bloody Valentine, Momus, The Times, Nikki Sudden, Pacific, Heidi Berry, Emily, Razorcuts. It is almost the complete picture of post-Smiths indie. And completely untouched by what was already brewing that would lead to Keeping The Faith. A snapshot of a time.

Well Done Sonny

The last one is this one, Retro Techno/Detroit Definitive Emotions Electric, a 1991 double album of the futuristic sounds of Detroit, a pulling together of the work of Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May, wall to wall techno classics that still sounds like its ahead of everyone else. From Model 500 at the start of Disc 1 Side 1 through to the massive drums, rhythms and bleeps of  The Groove That Won’t Stop, this is better than most ‘proper’ albums. The closing track is a sublime version one of dance music’s set texts, the unreleased mix of Strings Of Life by Rhythim Is Rhythim.

Strings Of Life (Unreleased Mix)

This could become a series I fear. Feel free to chip in with your own suggestions.

Can You Feel Your Hands? Can You Feel Your Feet?

Can you feel the rhythm?

Some songs that are ten minutes long fly by and some feel like they are ten minutes long, a journey to wherever the artist intends to take you. Screamadelica, the title track that wasn’t on the album of the same name, was recorded in Memphis with Weatherall and Nicholson at the controls and released on the Dixie Narco ep in 1992. It is ten minutes of blissful Balearic house accompanied by Denise Johnson’s vocals- ‘spaced out, star child, screamadelica’- and an array of found sounds and other voices. Slip inside.

Screamadelica

New Year’s Eve

Right then, New Year’s Eve, an over-rated excuse for an enforced piss up if ever there was one. But staying in watching Jools, waiting for the clock to run down, is no good either.

Like many of you (us, the whinging, metropolitan, liberal elite out to deny the democratic voice of the British people) I won’t be too unhappy to see the back of 2016, a downer of a year in many ways. 2017 promises more of the same (in the shape of Trump if nothing else). All we can do is continue to rage against the dying of the light with good music, people we like and trust and a hope that things may get better. To celebrate seeing the back of the year here’s some tunes….

Durutti Column first, the combined talents of Vini Reilly and Martin Hannett, and a song to see the winter out- it’s getting a bit brighter every day and has been since December 21st. That’s something to cheer about.

Sketch For Winter

Some more guitars, this time the squealing, distorted and overloaded kind courtesy of James Williamson and Mr James Osterberg’s Stooges. The start of this song is phenomenal, like the engineer pressed the record button a fraction too late but the band went for it anyway.

Search and Destroy (Mono)

Now some proper four-on-the-floor house music from Chicago in 1987. It contains a spoken word section that has some of the best kiss off threats to the other girl ever recorded (see below)

You Used To Hold Me

It’s all about midnight, count it down. There, done.

Peaking Lights with some chilled out midnight dub sounds to ease 2017 in.

Midnight Dub

And to finish, because all nights should finish with this…

Come Together (Weatherall Mix)

Spoken word section from You Used To Hold Me…

Now honey let me tell you something about my man.
You know he’s a good looking sweet lil’ thing.
That man knows how to satisfy a woman
You know what I’m talking about?
Girlfriend let me tell you,
He bought me this fur coat
A brand new car and this 24 carat gold diamond ring
Ain’t it pretty?
Girfriend you know how it is,
When you got a good man,
You start doin’ things like wearing those high heel shoes
And the lace pocket with the garter belt,
And putting on that sweet smellin’ seductive perfume.
Hm hmm
But you know what?
I’m gonna have to put some lame brain in check honey
Cause she got her locks on my man.
But baby I ain’t givin up on this here good thing not for nobody.
Cause what that dorky chick got wouldn’t satisfy a cheese stick let alone my baby
She better take her big long haired butt and move on ’cause he’s mine all mine

Bleu Bandulu

In the second hand record shop the other day I picked up a 12″ of Lundi Bleu by The Times. The Times was Ed Ball’s (note NOT Ed Balls) acid house project and Lundi Bleu was his cover version of Blue Monday which I posted here several years ago. The 12″ had two remixes of the track by The Grid which were what caught my eye and at £2.00 I decided it was worth a punt, having heard none of the remixes before. The two Grid remixes are both good, dubby with vocal samples, chugging away nicely. Here’s The Grid’s World Communications remix. It’s a Youtube video only I’m afraid- my computer issues continue and ripping anything is a bridge too far at the moment.

I enjoyed both The Grid remixes, especially as being off this week I had the house to myself and could turn it up loud enough and sit back with a cup of tea. But the real treat is on the flipside with Bandulu’s remix. Bandulu were from London, also on Creation and made reggae influenced dub/techno. Their remix of Lundi Bleu is a delight which defies description really- bubbling sounds and bouncing bass with an otherworldly, underwater groove. Futuristic in ’92 and still sounding so today. Properly making something wonderful and new out of a track.

Come Around

I wrote a piece for The Vinyl Villain’s Imaginary Compilation album series, ten Husker Du songs to brighten up your life. It’s here. I also found this, a remastered version of Zen Arcade’s opening song. The Youtube poster who put it up had done the new version himself, brought the bass up and balanced out Spot’s trebly mix. A very good job done.

Something I Learned Today

At around the same time a friend reminded me of Bob’s 90s band Sugar and their 1993 ep Beaster. Having signed to Creation and got some genuine success with Copper Blue they put out Beaster as a follow up The six songs on Beaster were recorded at the same time as Copper Blue but stand out as distinctively different- the guitars are heavier and denser. Very dense. Like other Bob Mould records (like Zen Arcade) Beaster was a kind of concept record and had a lot of religious imagery. Opener Come Around comes around slowly with bright acoustic guitar but then the Les Paul and Marshall stack kicks in, along with Bob’s deliberately difficult to make out vocals.

Come Around

Rama Lama Lama Fa Fa Fi

Released twenty five years ago this month Primal Scream’s fourth Screamadelica single was Don’t Fight It, Feel It. Where Loaded had been one of the key indie-dance triggers and Come Together was Weatherall’s gospel masterstroke and Higher Than The Sun was just so far out and gone, Don’t Fight It, Feel It was pretty much the closest they came to making house music (maybe Slip Inside This House shares that). DFIFI is wobbly house but house music nonetheless with a shuddering bassline, Denise Johnson’s wonderful vocals and bleeps and bloops and all manner of dancefloor sounds. The various single versions came with remixes including the even housier and barnstorming Scat Mix where Weatherall and Hugo Nicholson twist their own track inside out and upside down.

Don’t Fight It, Feel It (Scat Mix)

The song and others on Screamadelica caused ructions in the group no matter what Bobby told the press, guitarists walking out of studio sessions and people’s egos threatened by not being on certain tracks. They worked it all out for the live shows. This TV appearance on The Late Show shows how they got a guitar-led version of DFIFI going, with Throb working his way around house music on a Les Paul and Bobby sharing the vocals with Denise. Good stuff. And unlike The Stone Roses, they didn’t blow the sound meter and then shout abuse at Tracy McLeod.