End Of The Year

Despite what I wrote a fortnight ago about this being a good year for music I’m not sure that 2017 will go down as a good year. Brexit continues to be a monumental mistake which will fuck this country over for the foreseeable future. It is divisive, regressive and blinkered, a country committing a slow suicide. My only hope is that it eventually screws the Conservative Party over completely- who created this mess and have to take the blame. In the US Trump continues to normalise views and opinions which should have been long dead and buried, not to mention deliberately provoking an unstable dictator in North Korea, in some kind of nuclear dick-measuring contest. As the year went on a succession of stories of men abusing their position and power flowed out. If 2017 has been grim, 2018 looks like being just as bad, if not worse.

Still, there’s always music to cheer us up. When I wrote my list two weeks ago I missed a couple of things out which I should have included. Paresse’s slow motion Scandinavian house has been a favourite of mine for a few years now and this year’s Sloth Machine ep was no exception. This is the closing track.

Quiet Light

Matt Johnson and The The returned to the fray with a vinyl only Record Shop Day release, a tribute to his brother Andy who died earlier this year. We Can’t Stop What’s Coming is a beautiful song, moving and genuine.

It seems right to mention the response in May to the bombing at Manchester Arena. The response was solidarity and strength, standing together not apart. It was also musical- from honorary Mancunian Ariana Grande putting together a massive concert at short notice at the cricket ground (just up the road from here) to the adoption of Don’t Look Back In Anger as a sung two fingers to terror.  My old school, Parrs Wood High School, provided the choir at the One Love concert and a host of pop stars sang their hearts out. We watched on TV through tears.

When the Supersonic documentary was on the other night my Twitter timeline was mainly full of people expressing the view that ‘I never particularly liked Oasis but this documentary is really good’.

Lastly, in early May an event took place which confirmed my belief that people are essentially good and that bloggers are generally wonderful people. And that sometimes taking what seems like a risk is the right thing to do. A bunch of us- me, Brian (Linear Tracking Lives), Dirk (Sexy Loser), Walter (A Few Good Times) travelled from respectively Manchester, Seattle and Germany to Glasgow to meet the locals-Drew (Across the Kitchen Table), JC (The Vinyl Villain) and Stevie (Charity Chic Music), plus a few of JC’s mates (Aldo, Comrade Colin, Strangeways). It was a risk- none of us knew if we’d get on or what would happen- but it paid off. We all have a new set of friends (real life friends now as well as internet friends) and I feel sure it will happen again. And everyone else is welcome too.

I was trying to think of a song that might find approval from the whole Glasgow bloggers collective, the international chancers (as Drew dubbed us), a song that we would say ‘aye, that’s a belter’. 80s indie looks likely. Early Primal Scream seems to fit the bill.

Velocity Girl

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We Can’t Stop What’s Coming

Fresh up on the net after the limited vinyl release for RSD, The The with a one off reunion of Johnny Marr, James Eller and Zeke Manyika (1989 line up with Johnson, Marr and Eller pictured above. Johnny Marr’s hair and clobber was pretty much what I was trying to achieve at that time). A tribute to Matt’s brother, Andy Dog, as I’m sure you all know. This is a very special piece of music.

All Your Friends And Family Think That You’re Lucky

I’ve posted This Is The Day by The The before, twice in fact, but until last week I had never seen the video.

None of you need me to tell you what a great song this is, from the accordian to the softly sung vocals and the affecting autobiographical lyrics. I always assumed Matt was singing about a woman he knew but it occurred to me watching the video that he might be singing to himself. Either way, the observations are spot on. It is also one of those songs which seems to be about you. I’m also a big fan of the 1993 version complete with Casio organ preset rhythm (also known as That Was The Day)

This is The Day (Disinfected Version)

The early 90s full band version of The The, including Johnny Marr and James Eller plus Zeke Manyika, reunited for a RSD only 7″ playing tribute to Matt’s artist brother Andy, who designed the eye catching The The sleeves, who sadly died last year. Just 2000 copies, no re-release, no downloads. I know at least one person reading this has one.

I Don’t Even Know Myself

I was listening to Soul Mining, now (and then I think) seen as one of 1983’s most important releases. It is the work of a man in his early twenties and some of the lyrics are a bit overwrought as a result but at least three of the songs are as good as anything else anyone put out that year- This Is The Day, Uncertain Smile and Giant. The lyrics of Giant- and much of Matt Johnson’s output- deal with existential angst, long nights of the soul, and he gets it all out in this one. How can anyone know him? He doesn’t even know himself. Giant also offers a massive step forward- you can hear the future in Giant, in the pitter-patter of the drums, the big synth bassline, the length of the song, the groove, the mad percussion break down  after five minutes and in the extended chanted vocals.

Giant

Uncertain Smile

Mrs Swiss is away for the weekend with friends at a cottage in the country- a weekend that started on Friday afternoon and she has craftily managed to get to last until half way through Monday. Yesterday afternoon while child no. 2 was at a danceshow rehearsal, I convinced child no. 1 that we should do  a little record shopping. We went to Soundwaves in Stretford Arndale to pick something up and then popped into the ever excellent King Bee Records in Chorlton. Isaac’s tolerance for record shopping is limited so it was a hit and run affair, straight into the dance/house section followed by the 80s indie/alternative rack and then Factory and Related. Didn’t get to punk, he lost interest and the shop was pretty full. We left shortly after with a handful of winners. Like this one, the 12″ of The The’s Uncertain Smile. This video isn’t much to look at but the song, the song is first rate, and it uses the full 12″ of vinyl space to great effect.

Pull Back The Curtains

I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired this week and busy with work stuff. Then driving home last night this shuffled onto the car’s stereo- This Is The Day by The The. Compared to a lot of Matt Johnson’s stuff it’s pretty subtle, those lovely observational lyrics, the wheezy rhythm and that gorgeous accordion. And compared to his grand geopolitical songs and denunciations of religion it shows that sometimes it’s the little human touches that make a song connect. This is the day, her life will surely change.

This Is The Day

The Memories That Hold Your Life Together Like Glue

This Is The Day by The The is one of those songs that defies being taken to bits-  describing its constituent parts and holding it up to the light doesn’t help explain how great it is, how universal it is, how affecting it is. The character in the song looks back on their life, red eyed at dawn, and looks at this as the day that their life will change. Which it may.

This Is The Day