Isolation Mix Four

A bit of a change again for this week’s hour long isolation mix, this time a trip into more psychedelic and psyche areas, some guitars, a couple of cover versions, some remixes and a re-edit of an 80s alt- classic with an eye, a third eye maybe, on the cosmic and the blissed out. One of the segues is a little bit clumsy but I can live with it. I’ve had to move the host over to Mixcloud as I’d used up all my available space at Soundcloud without going to the paid for service.

Tracklist-
The Durutti Column: Otis

Wixel: Expressway To Yr Skull (Long Champs Bonus Beats)

Moon Duo: Stars Are The Light

Curses: This Is The Day

Le Volume Courbe: Rusty

Sonic Boom/ Spectrum: True Love Will Find You In The End

Mogwai: Party In The Dark

The Liminanas: The Gift (Anton Mix)

Goldfrapp v Spiritualized: Monster Love

Julian Cope: Heed Of Penetration and the City Dweller Head Remix by Hugo Nicholson

Edit Service 8 by It’s A Fine Line: The Story Of The Blues (Talkin’ Blues)

The Early Years: Complicity

 

Say It Loud ‘No!’

I woke up recently with Pete Wylie’s single Sinful running through my head. Sinful came out in 1987, a hit that saw him return to Top Of The Pops with Josie Jones and three backing dancers dressed as nuns.

Ace isn’t it? The song, the Zeus B. Held production, what looks like Paul Weller’s pop art Rickenbacker, the performance, the presenters (John Peel and Janice Long), the sheer Wylie spirit. I’ve posted the Top Of The Pops clip before but shockingly, and in a clear breech of the bloggers convention that all music blogs must post Wylie or Wah! at least once in any given calendar year, there hasn’t been any Wylie or Wah! to date in 2019.

Sinful

Here the same line up perform/mime on Wogan. Magic.

I’ve got an uneasy feeling that we’re all going to wake up on Friday morning in a very unpleasant state. There isn’t anything I’ve seen over the last few weeks that makes me feel optimistic about the result of the election and I think we going to be saddled with five years of Tory rule with a lying, racist, homophobic and vacuous Prime Minister.

In 1982 Pete Wylie, then operating under the name Wah!, wrote a song called The Story Of The Blues. It was partly in response to the then Conservative government and the portrayal of life and unemployment under that government in Alan Bleasdale’s series The Boys From The Blackstuff. The Blues of the title can be interpreted as the Tories. The first part of Wylie’s song is an exhortation to people who are about to give up, who have been kicked and kicked again, to be positive and strong, to organise and resist.

‘First they take your pride
Turn it all inside
And then you realise
You’ve got nothing left to lose

So you try to stop
Try to get back up
And then you realise
You’re telling the story of the blues’

Wylie was also expressing his frustration with his record company and the way they were trying to market Wah! and reduce the multi-faceted, rough edged group down into a single, shiny marketable product. Everyone hated their record labels in the 1980s didn’t they? It was par for the course for those inspired by punk to sign to a major for the advance and the distribution and then face battles in everything they did.

Wylie and Wah! recorded an extended version which took the pop single, full of female backing vocals and violins, further with a long spoken word section- The Story Of The Blues (Talkin’ Blues) and they run as one song on the 12″. In this section Wylie blasts the news media for selling Thatcher’s economic policies and for criticising people, young people especially, for being unemployed, as if being in the dole made you less of a person. These were all big issues in the early 80s- unemployment, the right to work, the destruction of manufacturing industry and the jobs that went with them, the throwing of people onto the scrapheap.

‘…well that’s my story and I’m sticking to that. So let’s have another drink and let’s talk about the blues. Blues is about dignity, it’s about self-respect, and no matter what they take away from you – that’s yours for keeps. I remember how it was, how every medium – T.V. and papers and radio and all those people were saying: ‘you’re on the scrap-heap, you’re useless’, and I remember how easy it was to start believing that. I remember how you’d hear people take it for granted that it was true – just ’cause someone with an ounce of power said so. And that’s a problem now, too many oddballs, too many pocketbook psychologists and would-be philosophers with an axe to grind. But there’s a solution, it’s not easy, but it’s a matter of coming to terms in your heart with situation you’re in, a matter of choosing how things go for you and not having things forced upon you. There are plenty of forces against you, forcing you against your will, your ideals – you’ve got to hope for the best, and that’s the best you can hope for – you’ve got to hope against hope… I remember something Sal Paradise said, he said: ‘the city intellectuals of the world are debauched from the full body blood-of-the-land and are just rootless fools’. So listen, when the smile, the condescending pat-on-the-back comes and says: ‘we’re sorry, but you’re nothing, you’ve got nothing for us and we’ve got nothing for you’, you say: ‘No’, and say it loud: “NO!”, and remember, people who talk about revolution and a class-struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love, and what is positive in the refusal and constraint…since people have a corpse in their mouth…”

In 2013 the I’m A Cliche Edit Service website presented an unoffical re-edit of The Story Of The Blues, credited to It’s A Fine Line (Tim Paris and Ivan Smagghe). This is a killer re-working of Wah!’s original with a long looped opening section, the backing vocals fading in behind the violins and then Wylie’s words. The last few minutes are quite heady and when you get to the end it’s very easy to just click replay and listen to it all over again. Several times. Even better, it’s still available to download for free.

I was going to go full Pete Wylie and post Come Back and Imperfect List as well but maybe we should come back to them another day. Come Back is a political love song, an anthem and call to arms and Imperfect List a purging, a shitlist of all the things Wylie and Jones hated (two versions, one in 1990 and one in 2013). But I think I’ll come back to them another day.

Where Were You?

In 1989 Big Hard Excellent Fish, a duo of Josie Jones and Jake Walters, were asked to write a piece of music for the punk ballet dancer and choreographer Michael Clark. Josie asked her then boyfriend Pete Wylie to help out and they recorded Imperfect List, with Robin Guthrie of The Cocteau Twins producing. It was released in 1989 and then again a year later with remixes by Andrew Weatherall (subtitled Rimming Elvis The Andrew Weatherall Way). I’ve posted the Weatherall remixes before (or at least a couple of them, there are four on the 12″ single). This is the original version.

Imperfect List

In Imperfect List Josie lists 64 things that her and Wylie hated starting with Adolf Hitler and taking in various other named or famous people from Terry and June to Bonnie Langford to ‘fucking bastard Thatcher’ to Stock, Aitken and Waterman, some unnamed people (macho dickhead, accusing ungrateful mate, weird British judges, tasteless A&R wanker and the dentist), some daily irritants (lost keys, neighbours- or is that Neighbours?), some entirely appropriate late 80s targets (the Tories, Hillsborough, Heysel, the poll tax, apartheid, acid rain, Clause 28, Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment) and some universal hates (cancer, miscarriage, loneliness, hunger, murder, gut wrenching disappointment, the Sun newspaper) and plenty more besides.

‘Where were you?’ Josie asks at the end, leaving the question hanging and unanswered.

Four Eleven Forty Four

The last day of August is always depressing- the end of summer, end of school holidays, changing seasons, nights drawing in, all that stuff. We need something heroic and valedictory to see us through- and Pete Wylie is the answer I think. I was going to post Sinful, his 1987 single, a real fists in the air, all together now moment, but while looking for that I found this one (also a single from 1987).

Fourelevenfortyfour

Otherwise known as 4-11-44, a love song and one of those songs that can convince you Wylie is some kind of genius. The roots of the phrase 4-11-44 are in the African American community of the USA in the 19th century. 4, 11 and 44 were popular numbers chosen when gambling on illegal lotteries,a three number gig that rarely came up and would therefore give a large payout. According to Urban Dictionary and at least one other source, the numbers are slang for the penis, particularly among Black Britons.

Oh go on then, here’s Sinful as performed on Top Of The Pops back in ’87, presented by Peel and Long, with Josie Jones (sadly no longer with us)  and 3 dancers dressed as nuns (which brought a complaint from Mary Whitehouse). We need more of this type of thing.

 

Down The Docks The Talking Turned…

…’As some are striving to survive, the others thrive’

I posted this song last year and once before that as well but sitting watching one of the Top Of The Pops reruns last week I was struck  (again) by the brilliance and magic, the faith and devotion of Pete Wylie’s Mighty Wah! in the mid 80s. Come Back sounds like a love song but the verses read as a clarion call, a stand against Thatcher and forces of greed, a call for community and to stand together, a shout to those forced out by economic forces beyond their control to return to the city and to their roots. That reads as much for 2017 as it did for 1984. Pete said on Twitter recently that he wrote and played every instrument of Come Back except for the backing vocal by partner Josie Jones. In the TOTP clip Josie looks amazing, hands on hips, alongside Pete in his leather trousers and blow dried hairdo.

Sadly Josie, a big figure on the Liverpool art and music scene, died in 2015. She had also been the voice of Big hard Excellent Fish’s Imperfect List, which I’ve also posted before here and in its updated form here.

Come Back (The Return Of The Randy Scouse Git)

How good is that? How could you ever get tired of hearing that? ‘It’s all up to you, yes it’s all up to you!’

Come Back

Pete Wylie has a version of The Mighty Wah! back out on the road with a handful of gigs this month and bunch more in November. It is a blogging requirement by constitution and tradition that The Story Of The Blues is posted by music blogs at least once annually. I’ve posted it before and a very smart re-edit version which some of you enjoyed a lot. In a break with expectation instead I’m posting another 12″ Wylie epic from 1984.

Come Back (The Story Of The Reds) and the Devil In Miss Jones (Combined and Extended)

And The Question Is Answered

This is an updated version of Big Hard Excellent Fish’s Imperfect List from a couple of years ago. The original came from the combined talents of Pete Wylie, Robin Guthrie and Josie Jones (and on the 1990 version Andrew Weatherall). The original list had range of targets from the late 80s and the re-worked list brings things up to date while also showing how little has changed.

Both versions mention Hillsborough. The justice the families of the 96 have been finally been given this week is truly right and proper. It also sadly confirms what many of us have known all along- that football fans in the late 80s were treated worse than cattle and seen as scum, that we were despised by an establishment that was engaged in something that was tantamount to class war and governed by a lying and corrupt government that colluded with a lying tabloid press that actually hated its readers, and that events were manipulated and covered up by at least one, probably two, corrupt police forces.

In 1989 I lived in Liverpool while at Liverpool University. I shared a house with a friend who was at Hillsborough, not the Leppings Lane End but another part of the ground. He returned home with both parts of his ticket- no one checked him into the ground. The Saturday after the disaster we were in Liverpool city centre. At six minutes past three the city centre stopped in absolute silence. Nothing moved and nobody spoke. It was one of the most moving, emotional minutes I’ve witnessed. As a Man United fan I’ve always felt deeply ashamed by the songs some of ‘our’ idiots sing and the heart of the matter is while it happened to be Liverpool fans who were unlawfully killed at Hillsborough in 1989, it could have been any of us, at another match, in another ground. Yes- this is justice for the 96 and for their families. But it is also justice for all of us.

Remember- don’t buy The Sun.