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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

City Of Vultures

At the eastern end of the M62 is Hull, City of Culture 2017. Steve Cobby, dj, musician and producer and resident of Hull, has spent some of the year celebrating by playing records and inviting friends to do the same at City of Vultures. There's a treasure trove of mixes to explore in the City of Vultures archive on Soundcloud, Steve plus guests like Ashley Beedle, Mr Scruff, Darren Emerson and Richard Dorfmeister- disco through to techno and most points in between.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Visitation

Pic from the same source as yesterday's German techno image (a German edition of Elle I think, mid 90s Deutsche fashion shoot).

Music from Steve Mason and Martin Duffy who as Alien Stadium have gone and released an end of year beauty, a four track mini-album called Livin' In Elizabethan Times. Mason has had fun with the lyrics- on The Visitation imagining a conversation between the human occupants of planet Earth and some alien invaders. The visitors have had a look at us and decided we aren't much cop.

'Your leaders are arseholes
Your science is crap
And just for the record
Your planet is flat
We hate your religions
Your food is too weak
Your language confusing
You're far from unique

The entire e.p. is a blast from start to finish, engaging and inventive- guitars and synths, driving drums and rhythms, Steve's familiar doleful voice, the sound of two men having fun. My only complaint is the cost of the vinyl- fifteen quid, which for 4 songs is pretty expensive.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Come Into My Life

Early 90s German techno anyone? Admittedly some 1992 techno can sound a bit harsh on the ears at this distance. The techno kick drum and tempo of Come Into My Life place it firmly in 1992, as do the acidic edges. It also veers into trance but the vocal and the sweeping strings lift it elsewhere. Even if you don't like techno (or think you don't) you should give this one a go. The Youtube uploader has set it to scenes from Bladerunner which makes perfect sense.

Come Into My Life was produced by Torsten Fenslau, who had a record label called Abfahrt as well. His biggest commercial success was producing Mr. Vain by Culture Beat, number one in 12 countries in 1993. He died in a car crash the same year. According to Wiki Mr. Vain was the first number one record not to have been released as a 7" single since the 1950s. Despite its Eurodance cheesiness Mr. Vain is a song that always makes me smile.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Hypnotise Us

Two slices of early 1990s dance music to whisk us away from December and all those pre-Christmas irritations. First up is a song I've posted before but only recently saw the video for the first time.

Released by Creation in 1990 Dream Beam is a wonderful slice of house music, bleepy and spaced out with vocals from Denise Johnson. It was this song that got her the gig with Primal Scream and led to her singing on Screamadelica. Tony Martin's production is perfectly in tune with the times- he put an album out too, also called Hypnotone, which is worth pulling out from the shelf or looking out for if this kind of thing is your bag. Dream Beam is also on Creation's definitive 1991 Keeping The Faith compilation, along with Fluke, Weatherall's MBV remix, World Unite, Sheer Taft, Love Corporation, Primal Scream and a couple of others. Keeping The Faith is among the very best things the label ever released.

I saw Hypnotone perform at a mini-festival in Sefton Park, Liverpool (I think it was summer 1990). Larks In The Park was an annual affair starting in the early 80s. Famously in 1985 The Stone Roses and The La's played the same night. Hypnotone went on way after dark. We were on a grass bank across the boating lake from the stage and the bleeps came  from the bandstand, drifting across the water towards us, followed by Denise's voice. Everyone was very chilled and happy. It was one of those moments.

Dream Beam (Danny Rampling Remix)

I posted Papua New Guinea by Future Sound Of London fairly recently, back at the end of August. August seems like a long time ago now. This is another video I'd never seen before until recently, FSOL playing Papua New Guinea on Top Of The Pops in 1991. And playing it live. Papua New Guinea is one of those records that takes you away from it all.

Weatherall's remix takes things up several gears, a thumping kick drum over that throbbing synths and the rushing rewind sounds. Tom toms. Seagulls. Chanting.

Papua New Guinea (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Dark Of The Woods

It's Saturday, the forecast is for snow today and lots of snow tomorrow. They often promise that but equally often it doesn't happen. To be frank, snow at the weekend is a waste of time and effort. Snow is only any real use if it closes work and you get a stolen day off.

A few weeks ago the latest edition of the R.G.C. Archive our went up online, Andrew Weatherall's irregular jaunt through his record collection following his enforced move form his Shoreditch studio. This is Vol. 11 and has a distinctly filmic and soundtrack quality with a side order skronky saxophone jazz. Just right for bunkering in while the snow falls.

Black Merda - Windsong
Don Sebesky - Sounds Of Silence
John Schroeder Orchestra - But She Ran The Other Way
Quincy Jones - Sahara Stone
Simon Park - Tides
Annette Peacock - The Succubus
Ralph Carmichael - Searching Questions
Bruno Nicolai - De Sade
The Harry Roche Constellation - Spiral
The Mystic Moods - The Seventh Plane
Ennio Morricone - Come Maddalaena
The Animated Egg - I Said, She Said, Ah Cid

Friday, 8 December 2017

There On The Beach, I Could See It In her Eyes

After writing about them at the weekend I've been thinking about Minutemen a bit this week, digging out some of the records and cds, thinking about an ICA for The Vinyl Villain and then it occurred to me that I could tie together two of this week's posts quite neatly.

One of the Minutemen's key songs is Corona (off Double Nickels on The Dime but more famous as the theme tune to Jackass. Let's try to ignore tattooed MTV idiots stapling their arms and scrotums and focus on the song). D. Boon, Mike Watt and George Hurley all wrote lyrics for the songs. Inspired and turned on by punk rock they decided early on that they would write lyrics that meant something. D. Boon wrote Corona after a trip to Mexico.

Mike Watt can explain the song better than I can- 'Corona is very heartfelt. D. Boon wrote that one on a trip to Mexico. After all the drinking and the partying, the morning after, there's a lady picking up bottles, to turn them in to get monies for her babies... it really touched him. Music was personal with us, it's how we were together, and then the [punk] movement let us do it in front of people. The movement was so inclusive, and it seemed that if you wanted in, you had to bring something original – it was kind of a toll. And for D. Boon, I remember him telling people, “Okay, whatever we play, it sounds like the Minutemen”. And that's what I hear in Corona.There's a little Mexico in there, it's got a little 'thinking out loud' – what D. Boon called our lyrics. Like, D. Boon's thinking about what's going on here: we're having a party at the beach, and this lady, by using the empty Corona bottle – it's not like D. Boon liked Corona beer! – no, she's using that bottle to help. So there's a real connection there. That's why I really like Corona – it's a strange mixture of things, but to me it's the nice things about the Minutemen'.

There's so much about this 2 minute 25 second song- the Mexican riff at the start followed by the trebly guitars and double time drumming, the fizz and buzz of the bass, D. Boon's punk poetics- he manages to say so much with so few words-

'The people will survive
In their environment
The dirt, scarcity, and the emptiness of our south
The injustice of our greed
The practice we inherit
The dirt, scarcity and the emptiness of our south
There on the beach
I could see it in her eyes
I only had a Corona
Five cent deposit'


In 2003 Calexico put out their fourth album, Feats Of Wire, the one that brought all the pieces together with some career high points. One edition of the cd came with some bonus tracks, including a cover of Corona, a pretty logical song for them to cover. Calexico slow it down a bit and add some lovely mariachi horns

Track 32 (Corona)

While looking for a picture for this post I found this image of a pair of SST labelmates, pictured in front of a poster for Husker Du's 1984 double album, D. Boon (who died the following year when their tour van crashed) and Grant Hart (drummer of Husker Du, who died this year of cancer).

Thursday, 7 December 2017


Jane Weaver's album (Modern Kosmology) is one of my most played lp releases of 2017. In October one of the stand out songs, The Architect, became the lead song on an e.p. with 3 new tracks. This one, Element, is the closer and is a thing of motorik joy. Jane's choral, layered vocals ease us in and then metronomic, minimal drums take over. A bassline joins in pulsing away. Over the next 7 minutes plus we get more of the same, beautifully repetitive. Static and odd noises come and go. Waves of synths wash in and out. It's too insistent to be ambient, very much something to tune into to and then lose yourself in.