Thursday, July 24, 2008

Random Access

I’ll quickly round up my accompanying pieces for an article I wrote in John Cooper’s Scream City no. 4 (now sold out, I believe). I had intended to write these while the zine was still on sale. What on earth made me think I could increase my miserably poor blogging rate over the summer? Oh well; another lesson learned.

In case you’ve only just joined us, the article was about sampler albums of the post-punk era, and I still need to blog about Stevo’s Some Bizzare Album, and Cherry Red’s iconic Pillows and Prayers.

First up, Some Bizzare [sic]. Whatever you might say about Stevo’s business practices (and some people have been less than complimentary), he could certainly spot talent, and this album features early tracks by Blancmange, B-Movie and Depeche Mode, who all decamped for other labels, as well as acts that Stevo managed to retain such as Soft Cell and The The*.

While Jell didn’t go on to fame and/or fortune, they were one of the more interesting acts on the compilation. Though “they” is perhaps not the correct word here, Jell being another nom-de-synth of Eric Random (nĂ© Eric Ramsden), a bit player in some of the more interesting music that came out of the early 80s, including sides by Cabaret Voltaire, Durutti Column, The Tiller Boys and his own band, the Bedlamites. Their (his) contribution to the Some Bizzare Album, entitled I Dare Say It Will Hurt A Little, is available below for your downloading pleasure.

Like On-U Sound’s Pay It All Back Vol. 1, the album used to go for silly money, but no more. It has recently been re-released with the original 12 tracks being supplemented by bonus material from The Residents, The Normal and Fad Gadget. So buy it and keep those pesky ISPs off my back.

Download I Dare Say It Will Hurt A Little by Jell (mp3) (deleted Aug 2009)

Buy Eric Random's CD

Buy Some Bizzare Album

* mea culpa, I said in the Scream City article that The The had also left. Not true; they stayed loyal to Some Bizzare until the mid-90s. I think I was remembering that my copies of Infected, Mind Bomb etc. all sported the Epic logo. Stevo, as was his wont, tended to licence Some Bizzare’s recordings to majors, The The to CBS/Epic, Soft Cell to Phonogram, Cabaret Voltaire to Virgin, etc. Incidentally, I’ll always have a soft spot for The The’s fellow Epic recording artists Wham! because they said in 1986 that Infected was their favourite album of that year. George Michael also used to say that his and Andrew’s favourite LP of all time was Closer by Joy Division. I wonder if that’s still the case?

BTW, did I ever tell you story of my friend Audra and her encounter with Matt Johnson? No? Another time, perhaps…

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Steady On

While we're at it, I heard the redoubtable Gideon Coe comparing media darlings the Hold Steady to Bruce Springsteen the other day. Well, I can just about see the similarity. But to my ears, the Hold Steady (on their new single at least) occupy the exact midpoint on the musical continuum that connects latter-day Butthole Surfers to Bruce Hornsby and The Range.

See if you agree:

Stainless Steel in the Hour of Chaos

First off, apologies for leaving you hanging. I've been out and about in the real world (of which more in future posts).

We'll get back to the sampler album tracks shortly. In the meantime, though, I've had Neon Neon's excellent new single going round in my head for weeks now, and it's finally released this week, with accompanying video. The video (below) segues partway through into the single's B-side, Trick For Treat, featuring Spank Rock and Ron Jerem.....sorry, Har Mar Superstar... but don't let this put you off.

Okay, so the Psychedelic Furs and Thomas Dolby have called to say they want their sound back. But when a group has the balls to create a concept album (about John DeLorean, no less) in this age of instant downloads and short attention spans, that has to be applauded. The people at the Mercury Music Prize obviously think so-- said album (Stainless Style) received a nod for best long-player of the year in the Mercury shortlist yesterday.

If you like I Told Her on Alderaan, there's every chance you'll enjoy the short mixtape that Gruff and BoomBip of Neon Neon provided to Pitchfork. It outlines their influences for Stainless Style, which include Neil Young's derided Trans, Janet Jackson and Debbie Gibson. Hooray! Download this here.

(Bonus pic: two pre-teen vandals in front of a DeLorean. In Coventry.)