Colours In The Air

While looking for something else I found a CD I’d forgotten I owned- Zero: A Martin Hannett Story 1977- 1991. It’s a compilation of songs recorded and produced by Hannett, from Boredom by Buzzcocks onward. Zero is a really good compilation, even with U2’s presence, showing the range and depth of Hannett’s talents and the importance of the man to the sound of some key bands. The final song on the CD is World Of Twist’s 1991 cover of She’s A Rainbow and it struck me that this week’s posts were developing a cover versions theme and that I should go with the flow.

World Of Twist are much missed in some corners not least round here- they got pulled along in the early 90s Manchester slipstream but didn’t really fit in with the sound or the look. Their cover of She’s A Rainbow was originally a B-side to their debut single The Storm and then re-appeared in 1992 in various guises and with remixes as the record label attempted to get a hit and some sales. The version here was one of the last songs Hannett worked on before his death in April 1991 aged just 41. In a way She’s A Rainbow was one of World Of Twist’s less interesting songs, a pretty straight cover version and it doesn’t really show Hannett’s peculiar production genius especially either. But it’s fun and fits in with the group’s aesthetic.

She’s A Rainbow

Hannett lost five years in the 80 to heroin addiction and the groundbreaking productions he did in the late 70s and early 80s especially with the Factory bands- Joy Division, New Order, Durutti Column, Section 25, ACR- was well behind him and unlikely to be equalled (although he really pulled it out of the bag with Bummed).

The original of She’s A Rainbow was on The Rolling Stones 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request, a lightweight, pretty tune, sing-song psychedelia with la la la backing vocals, Nicky Hopkins on piano and some Brian Jones Mellotron. A most un-Stonesy single and song, coming at a mid-point between Paint It Black and Jumping Jack Flash.

She’s A Rainbow


It’s A Gas

I was watching a programme about India recently and this song, Ananda Shankar’s sitar version of Jumpin’ Jack Flash was playing in the background. My first reaction was ‘all those thousands of songs played by Indian musicians and they have to choose a Stones cover, bah humbug, grumble grumble etc’. But then I checked myself and thought ‘well, Ananda Shankar was a Bengali musician so there is that’ and ‘the song is a magnificent blast so stop being stupid’. I think I first became aware of it thanks to David Holmes’ Essential Selection where it fitted in perfectly with that mid 90s pick ‘n’ mix aesthetic, rock and roll and funk and soul and everything else too.

Jumpin’ Jack Flash

I Got Nasty Habits

Later on on Friday evening I flicked through the channels and chanced upon the final forty minutes of Shine A Light, Martin Scorsese’s recent Rolling Stones film. I say recent, I’ve just checked and it came out in 2008. Is that recent? It was grimly compelling. Most of the film is a live performance in a smallish New York theatre. Keith has that pirate thing going on, still stick thin, eyeliner and bangles and by the looks/sound of it, his guitar playing is still a good thing- raucous and raw. Ronnie Wood is Ronnie Wood, take him or leave him. There are three backing singers who do quite a lot of the work. What to make of Mick Jagger? Energetic, yes. He performs like the CEO of a multi-national company- which is what he is. They played/massacred Live With Me, originally from 1969’s Let It Bleed, arguably their best, most dangerous album. Christine Aguilera turned up for an ill-advised duet.

On the record Live With Me blasts into life with a ferocious bassline, played by Keith (which explains it) and slashing guitar chords. It is Mick Taylor’s first recorded appearance with the band- maybe he was showing them exactly what he could do. Bobby Keys contributes a sax solo, a sax solo I can actually live with, and then there’s Mick’s libidinous lyrics. The legend of the wild, libertine, English Stones is all over these lyrics. ‘I got nasty habits’ Mick opens with, ‘I take tea at three’. His best friend shoots water rats and feeds them to his geese. In verse two Mick tells of his ‘hairbrained children’, with ‘earphone heads and dirty necks, so Twentieth century’. These verses are all there to build up to his attempts in the chorus to woo someone, someone who has a place between Mick’s sheets. The third verse goes into 18th century overdrive, with a butler, the French maid, a cook, chauffeur and some slap and tickle in aplace behind the pantry door. Louche, lairy, Carry On but with hard drugs. The band are so hot the tape must have been overheating.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Live With Me


Twenty five years ago today I was one of thirty thousand people standing on an island in the river Mersey near Widnes, just next to a chemical plant. The idea a year or two previously that a British indie guitar band could draw that many people to watch them was absurd and that was one of the things The Stone Roses brought to the late 80s, the thinking big and being ambitious. The day itself involved a lot of sitting around, a few support acts that didn’t really connect at all and huge queues for the beer tents. This wasn’t really a beery crowd though, unlike Heaton Park in 2012 which was collectively about as drunk as it could be. The band came on at nine and played well, clearly partly blown away by the event and the crowd’s enthusiasm. The sound quality has been debated ever since, the wind whipping it about the island. Where we were, it sounded good. The final three songs were illuminated by the lights bouncing off the huge mirrorballs suspended above the stage just as it had gone dark- Made Of Stone, Elizabeth My Dear and I Am The Resurrection. We were driven there in Al’s Grandad’s chocolate brown Austin Allegro. I distinctly remember the compilation tape we played on the way. Killer by rave hero Adamski (and Seal)…

808 State’s Pacific, which was everywhere that summer (and the one before)…

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And this, Sympathy For the Devil. Woo woo.

Double Mick

I was listening to that BBC 6 Radio Clash show yesterday and one of Mick Jones’ choices was Citadel by The Rolling Stones. Citadel is off the 1967 psychedelic disaster Their Satanic Majesties Request, an album with two, maybe three, good songs. I’d forgotten all about Citadel until Jonesey played it and it floored me, to the extent that I went to the vinyl collection, dug out Satanic Majesties (which probably hasn’t been out of it’s sleeve since the late 80s) and put Citadel straight on. Sneering, psychedelic garage rock. It’s got a superb nasty, psych guitar riff from Keef and Mick doing what sounds like a slowed down proto- Jumping Jack Flash vocal. Add in some noise that The Velvet Underground wouldn’t have turned down and you have what may well be the most under-rated song in The Stones whole back catalogue (which means all the records up to Exile On Main Street really doesn’t it?).


And for the last day of 2013 here’s Bagging Area favourites Big Audio Dynamite with a lovely slice of late 80s house influenced positivity, Contact.

But what on earth was Mick doing with his hair?

Contact (Club Mix)

Saturday Mash Up

Mark Vidler, in his Go Home Productions guise, proves that a mash up of Shannon’s peerless Let The Music Play and The Stones’ equally peerless Gimme Shelter go together as well as bacon and eggs on a Saturday morning. Jim Morrison turns up at the start to provide the fried tomato (liked by some, loathed by others). Stoned. Immaculate. Fried mushrooms.

Shannon Stone

At Leek Town Hall Tonight

A while back I wrote a post about a Half Man Half Biscuit song which referenced the Staffordshire town of Leek. I said Leek was well known to me as the birthplace of my Dad but that other than the HMHB tune the only other time it had popped up in song was in Joe Strummer’s wonderful reggae tinged At The Border, Guy. Recently a reader Sam Sherratt has left a couple of comments on the post adding further detail and deepening Leek’s rock ‘n’ roll connections. This was too important to be left dwindling as comments below a post and I feel deserved a posting in their own right. Sam wrote…

Can help with the Leek reference in the Strummer song. Joe’s pre-Clash band the 101ers had a couple of members originally from Leek (incidentally Joe at the time was known as Woody). This included drummer Richard Dudanski (aka Nother), who later went on to drum with PiL. The 101ers played in Leek at a club called Samantha’s (not Leek Town Hall) and on another occasion came to a party. I was in touch with Richard a few years’ back and he said he asked Joe about this reference and said that he must have been confused.
Nice to tidy up a little corner of rock trivia!

and added afterwards…

Leek was also responsible for poisoning the Rolling Stones on Christmas Eve 1963, which is mentioned in Bill Wyman’s diaries – I know the man who bought the pies!

Rolling On

I’ve been trying to ignore the recent Rolling Stones celebrations. They haven’t been any use as a recording band since about 1973. The documentary Crossfire Hurricane showed the band admit that themselves- two hours about the 60s, half an hour in the south of France, five minutes of Miss You and Ronnie Wood, the end. The press for the gigs at the O2 has been largely positive and I suppose if you were there (tickets starting at £95 and going up to around a grand, for all you Street Fighting Men and Ladies out there) it could have been pretty good, if you like arena gigs. Charlie keeps the beat going and Keef pulls out all the riffs and Bill and Mick Taylor turn up (but on the other hand so does Eric Clapton, and on one night Florence Welch sang on Gimme Shelter- gimme shelter indeed), but on this brief clip at The Guardian they sound a bit ropey to these ears and the problem is Mick. He looks absurd- I know he’s 69 but that hat is awful and the jacket worse. Looks like he got them in the sale in Top Man. Worse still his vocals sound terrible. Someone said he sounds ‘strident’. Depends on your definition of strident I suppose.

Keeping a band going for fifty years is an achievement- hats off for that. Their early records marrying delta blues with Deptford are great, their run of 7″ singles from 1964-68 is superb and there are four albums in the 1969-1972 span that are crackers. Hats off again. They can’t keep going forever can they- ten years, maybe less, and they’ll be gone and we’ll probably miss them. But we’ll be missing what they were really, not what they are (unless you went to the O2 gigs, in which case you’ll say they were brilliant. And maybe they were).

Parachute Woman

Her Man’s Been Gone For Nigh On A Year

In 1967 The Rolling Stones held their Rock ‘n’ Roll circus, a gig in a big top. Due to poor planning or Mick’s ego or Keith’s drugs they rather foolishly they went on last, in the early hours of the morning when band and audience were tired, and gave a somewhat below par performance. By that time they’d also been blown away by The Who, who stole the show with a performance of Pete Townsend’s mini-opera (it’s not really an opera, it just has different sections and tells a story. Maybe it is an opera then) A Quick One. It is one heck of a performance.

The version below was taped for the Beeb and first broadcast on Top Gear in 1967. Not that Top Gear.

A Quick One (While He’s Away) (BBC Session)

It occurs to me I’ve got a Billy Childish and The Buff Medways cover of A Quick One. The Who need seven or eight minutes for it. Typically Billy gets through it around three. I’ll try to find it for you if you like.

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

Here’s one for that curious cover versions compilation/playlist you’ve been meaning to make- Sandie Shaw doing Sympathy For The Devil in 1969. Crazed and frantic, it’s a million miles from the Eurovision stuff of two years before and the Smiths collaboration of the mid 80s. The album, Reviewing The Situation, also has a fair stab at Led Zeppelin’s Your Time Is Gonna Come and a Donovan cover but this is the WTF? moment, if you’ll excuse the young persons slang.

Sympathy For The Devil