Isolation Mix Five

Five weeks into these isolation mixes already- doesn’t time fly when you’re socially restricted? There is a higher BPM count on this mix but also some folky darkness and post punk dread from Nick Drake and A Certain Ratio respectively, some dance grooves from Ellis Island Sound and Scott Fraser, the ultra Balearic vibes of Richard Norris’ Time And Space Machine remix of A Mountain Of One, some 1990 class from World Unite when Creation Records went all E’d up and dancey, Andrew Weatherall remixing Moby and Wayne Coyne in epic style, half of The Clash with Frank Ocean and Diplo plus the West Los Angeles Childrens’ Choir (brought to you in association with Converse) from 2014 and a very long Seahawks remix of Tim Burgess, some headspinning ambient noise set against Harry Dean Stanton’s monologue from Paris, Texas. ‘Yep, I know that feeling’.

Tracklist:

Nick Drake: ‘Cello Song

A Certain Ratio: Winter Hill

Ellis Island Sound: Intro, Airborne, Travelling (Scott Fraser Remix)

A Mountain Of One: Ride (The Time And Space Machine Remix)

World Unite: World Unite

Moby Ft. Wayne Coyne: Another Perfect Life (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Frank Ocean, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Diplo: Hero

Tim Burgess: A Gain// Stoned Alone Again Or (Seahawks Remix) v Harry Dean Stanton, Nastassja Kinski and Ry Cooder: I Knew These Two People, Paris Texas soundtrack

If You Catch Me At The Border I Got Visas In My Name

A month ago I watched the excellent documentary Matangi/Maya/M.I.A., a film about the life, music and politics of M.I.A. The film is made up of home video footage, TV appearances, time spent with Justine Frischmann and on the road with Elastica, interviews and various shaky, hand held video camera and phone clips. It’s a fascinating document, energetic and gripping. Much of the film centres around a visit to Sri Lanka which Maya extends longer than intended and the impact this has on her convictions and politics and the effect this then has on her music, her view of herself as an immigrant and a Londoner. As her music becomes more popular and widespread she walks into various controversies. She is accused by the US media of being a terrorist sympathiser (her father was a founding Tamil Tiger). She is set up by the New York Times and responds by tweeting the journalist’s mobile phone number. She is invited by Madonna to appear with her at half time during the Superbowl and gives the whole of Middle America the middle finger. Her ambition and attitude are evident from the star and she comes across very well too, likeable and genuinely questioning her own attitudes and beliefs. She has swagger and self- belief and has made some of the best pop songs of the 21st century.

I’ve posted this before but it never gets tired, a thrilling pop- rap blast riding in on that Mick Jones Straight To Hell guitar sample, Diplo’s production and M.I.A.’s lyrics about people’s perceptions of immigrants (hence the gun shots and cash registers of the chorus).

Paper Planes

The best use of a Clash sample? Maybe so. Norman Cook and Beats International made very good use of Paul Simonon’s bassline for Dub Be Good To Me in 1990, with Lindy Layton’s sweet vocal and The SOS Band’s song.

Dub Be Good To Me (LP version)

In 1994 Deee Lite sampled the wheezy organ from Armagideon Times for Apple Juice Kissing, a song about kissing on the back row of the movies and therefore a much less political song than Paper Planes, Straight To Hell or The Clash’s cover of Willie Williams’ reggae tune but all part of life’s rich tapestry. And a very smart use of a Clash sample too.

Apple Juice Kissing

Where Is England?

Sometimes unreleased songs are unreleased for a reason. The promise of unreleased tracks isn’t always that much of a treat in the end, curios played once or twice and then filed away. The second cd of the new Joe Strummer album 001 has some buried treasure on it though. The Swede posted a lost Joe Strummer-Mick Jones song on Monday, the ten minute long U.S. North. This one is a revelation, especially for those of us who could tell that the post-Mick single This Is England had a great song hidden inside it. The album the five man Clash recorded, Cut The Crap, is best avoided apart from the lead single, a record hijacked by Bernie Rhodes who plastered it with tinny production, cheap synths and badly programmed drum machines. Joe’s demo for This Is England, called Czechoslovak Song/Where Is England shows what could have been- Joe singing an early version of the song that would become This Is England, backed by Pete Howard on drums and Paul Simonon playing a wonderful dub bassline.

I’ll Be Playing Concerts In The Mud

Periodically it’s good to remember this 2014 song from the combined talents of Frank Ocean, Diplo, Paul Simonon and Mick Jones. Put together as something to do with Converse it goes way beyond a cheap commercial tie in. Mick’s shimmering guitar part and Diplo’s beats are the perfect accompaniment to Frank Ocean’s meditation on being a young black man in the USA- ‘I’m a badboy, I’m a punk’. The West Los Angeles Children’s Choir join in and lift it further upwards. I don’t think all four were ever present in the same room at the same time- Frank’s vocals were done elsewhere, at a different time- but it doesn’t show or matter. At the time there was talk of other tracks Mick and Paul put down with Diplo but it doesn’t look like anything came of them, so this is all we have. The only real disappointment is that it’s all over in under three minutes.

Hero

Return To Brixton

Paul Simonon realised after a while that the money was in songwriting. During the sessions for what became London Calling he worked up a tune into what would become one of the group’s most recognisable and best-loved songs, thanks in large part to ‘the bassline of the twentieth century’. The swagger of Guns Of Brixton comes from the swing of the bassline and Paul’s rough and ready vocal, the ripping sound at the start (velcro being peeled off the studio chairs apparently) and the chanted backing vocals. One of my favourites.

In 1990 Norman Cook borrowed the bassline for his number one hit Dub Be Good To Me. Without asking permission. Paul and Norman settled in a cafe and according to Paul at the time the cash injection was much needed. I happen to love Dub Be Good To Me, an updating of The SOS Band’s Just Be Good To Me with harmonica pinched from Ennio Morricone and the rap half-inched from Johnny Dynell.

CBS, sensing a hit, decided to get a top dj to remix Guns Of Brixton, for the club scene. Jeremy Healy was the dj and a 12″ single with three new versions (two are below) was put out. It stormed into the charts reaching number 57. I don’t remember the clubs and bars of 1990 being awash with this version either. Well done CBS, good work.

To be honest I quite like the remixes, they present the song a bit differently, give it something else. They’re not as good as the original no, and yes, they’re probably for completists and the curious only.

Return To Brixton (Extended Version)

Return To Brixton (SW2 Dub)

Jeremy Healy was in Haysi Fantayzee previous to his dj career. I’ve been watching the Top Of The Pops re-runs from 1983 this year and the January editions had Haysi Fantayzee on several times doing Shiny Shiny,a sort of pirate, nursery rhyme, tribal, glam, anti-nuclear thumper. Having recorded it, I re-watched it a few times too. Two words- Kate Garner.

A Long Time Ago There Were Pirates

I found this image on the web the other night so it gives me a good excuse for a gratuitous Clash post and one of the most hair raising, adrenaline infused songs they recorded. The original Capital Radio was a freebie with the NME and the second hand price of it sky-rocketed. This appalled the band whose insistence on value for money and fans not being ripped off was a founding principal. So the song was re-recorded and included on the 1979 Cost Of Living ep, pound for pound one of the best value for money 7″ records ever released (a four track ep led by I Fought The Law and supported by two of their best lesser known songs Groovy Times and Gates Of The West plus this one here).

Capital Radio starts with Mick playing a sweet acoustic finger picked riff. At twenty nine seconds Mick, off mic, shouts ‘1-2-3-4’ and hits the main riff, a massive jolt of electric guitars. Joe joins in with a line about ‘the Dr Goebbels show!’ Topper’s drumming is on the money. Joe and Mick alternate call and response style, railing against London’s number one commercial radio station and it’s refusal to play punk records and celebrating the pirate stations of the 60s- now silent ‘cos they ain’t got government license’. They make radio programming sound like the biggest injustice of modern times. At two minutes the band breaks it down and Joe comes in with ‘hey guys, come on’. ‘Yeah wot?’ Mick responds, surly as you like. Joe then explores the possibility of The Clash being radio friendly and having a hit before they end with a brief breakout into You’re The One That I Want, then at the top of the charts with Travolta and Newton John. Mick’s strings squeal. Topper doubles the beat. More exciting and more fun than you can possibly imagine (as Obi Wan never said).

Capital Radio Two

While I’m here these pictures have been sitting in a folder waiting for a post so I may as well put them here or I’ll end up doing a week of Clash posts.

Here’s Joe and Mick in the USA, 1983, hanging by the pool- everything you need in late period Clash… Joe in Docs with mohawk and a busker’s ukulele, Mick having raided the army surplus store.

Paul live in Paris, raising standards.

And lastly Topper and Paul, on tour c1979 somewhere far from the Westway.

Without People You’re Nothing

Joe Strummer died on 22nd December 2002 and I’ve got into the habit of marking it here. God only knows what he’d have made of the events of 2016 but his famous quote that gives this post its title is as relevant as ever.

I finish work today for the Christmas holiday and I cannot remember ever feeling so tired. I’ll be raising a glass to Joe’s memory tonight. This song from Global A Go Go typifies Joe’s multicultural look at the world and his joy in other cultures.

Bhindi Bhagee

His bandmate and friend Paul Simonon turned 61 on the 15th of December so happy belated birthday to him too.