Isolation Mix Thirteen

Lockdown ends today- at least, that’s how the government and the media have been portraying it with occasional reminders that social distancing and a 2 metre gap might be important. The government have largely dropped the daily infection figures and death toll from their bulletins. You don’t want to be depressing people at this stage of proceedings with doom and gloom, not when there are pints to be drunk! The media have been splashing stories about Super Saturday, Independence Day and the End Of Hibernation. It does look like they deliberately chose July 4th so they could call it an Independence Day. Meanwhile, Leicester is in lockdown, the R rate in London is apparently creeping above 1, there are Covid hotspots around the country, the deaths are still well over one hundred every day, and lots of people are talking about a second wave and a second spike without the people in charge actually wanting to do anything about it. We are still shielding, the medical advice we received this week is that due to our son Isaac being in the extremely vulnerable category we should stay in isolation until August 1st. Despite a few minor changes to our lockdown lives, we are still very much in isolation.

This mix is an hour and eight minutes of music with a folky, ambient, pastoral tinge with some Balearica and guitars thrown in, some old stuff and some brand new- some birdsong and synth ambience to start and finish, blissed out tracks from Seahawks, Apiento and Ultramarine, Green Gartside solo and as Scritti Politti, acoustic guitars courtesy of Nancy Noise, Michael Head and Barry Woolnough, some understated brilliance from The Clash and Sandinista!, Julian Cope covering Roky Erickson, Thurston Moore covering New Order and Jane Weaver’s cosmic/folky weirdness.

Tracklist-
Stubbleman: 4am Conversation

Seahawks: Islands

Nancy Noise: Kaia

Green Gartside: Tangled Man

Barry Woolnough: Great Spirit Father In The Sky

The Clash: Rebel Waltz

Thurston Moore: Leave Me Alone

Julian Cope: I Have Always Been Here Before

Jane Weaver: Slow Motion (Loops Variation)

Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band: Picasso

Scritti Pollitti: The Boom Boom Bap

Apiento: Things You Do For Love

Ultramarine: Stella (Stella Connects)

Stubbleman: 6am Chorus

Find Me In The Park

I missed this when it came out back in 2015, a standalone 7″ single from Michael Head and his Red Elastic Band. The b-side is a jazzy song about Koala Bears with an intelrude into Close To You. The a-side is a beaut, with a finger picked intro reminiscent of Everybody’s Talkin’, cello and Mick singing of the pleasures of listening to Lou, Sterling, John and Mo in the park, in the dark.

Velvets In The Dark

This live version was recorded in March 2016 at Islington Assembly Hall,  all reverb and atmosphere. It shimmers. If you want a physical copy  of the studio version Piccadilly Records seem to have some left.

Adios Senor Pussycat

Michael Head and his Red Elastic Band played at Gorilla on Sunday night. I got an offer of a ticket earlier in the week and I’m really glad I said yes (despite trying to kick a cold that left me feeling shitty all weekend). Gorilla is a small venue underneath the railway arches on Whitworth Street, capacity 500 people (sold out, rammed and somewhat warm) and is the ideal place to see Michael Head in many ways- great sound, intimate and with a committed audience.

The Red Elastic Band comprise of two guitarists, a young long-haired Fred Perry clad bassist, a drummer, a cellist who makes a massive contribution to the sound and a trumpeter (who I’ve read today is Andy Diagram, formerly of James and also Mick’s first band The Pale Fountains- his trumpet parts make me wonder why every guitar band doesn’t have a trumpeter). The songs from last year’s Adios Senor Pussycat album sound wonderful, dynamic and full of life, influenced by Love clearly, but modern and sharp too, Mick’s familiar marriage of melancholy, warmth and bad luck. Picasso and Picklock stand out, beefed out by the players compared to the album versions. Mick is a charismatic and genial host, stumbling in his words occasionally between songs, but not in his singing and playing and the band are as tight as you like, changing tempo or direction effortlessly. The audience would no doubt have been pretty happy just to have heard the songs from Senor, of which we get plenty, but they are interspersed with songs from Shack and other periods of Mick’s life- opener is an unreleased beauty called Pretty Child (which has had several names over the years); an intense, survivor’s gallop through Streets Of Kenny; a clamorous Comedy as the only encore; Waterpistol’s Mr Appointment; and a brilliant version of 1991 psychedelic-Shack single I Know You Well. Back in the 90s an NME front cover proclaimed Mick Head as the best songwriter in Britain and over 90 minutes he goes a long way towards proving that opinion right- how he is playing in venues this small while some of his contemporaries play arenas and stadiums is a mystery, but we win, as we get to see him close up and with all the subtleties and intricacies that you get at small gigs.

I Know You Well (12″ Mix)

Adios Senor Pussycat

Josephine

I first heard this last week at Echorich’s place and have been coming back to it daily since then- a new song from Mick Head, formerly of Shack, The Pale Fountains and The Strands. Michael’s new group is The Red Elastic Band and they’ve got an album ready to release in the autumn, his first for a decade. Mick knows his way around a tune and this one is a lilting, folk-influenced thing, with harmonies and hooks to spare. The video is made up to archive footage of Liverpool in the early-to-mid 1960s and is a treat too.