Saturday, 24 February 2018
This picture was from an NME interview, Mick Jones photographed in Portobello Road following his recovery from chicken pox and complications with pneumonia in 1989 that nearly killed him. I was hoping to find other similar pictures of punks on bikes and do a semi-regular feature called Punks On Bikes but alas I've not found any others (apart from Paul Weller in that Style Council video).
Mick always had the ability to rise from the ashes of defeat and disaster. He came back from being sacked from The Clash with Big Audio Dynamite and a debut album that was chock full of tunes and hits. When the original line up of B.A.D. walked out in 1990, partly in response to his 'intolerable' attitude after getting over his near fatal illness in '89, he put together a new line up and came back once again. Rush was a big hit in the US (on the back of the re-released Levi's tie in Should I Stay Or Should I Go? admittedly but it also gained B.A.D. II plenty of airplay and curiously they also won the Billboard Modern Rock Song of 1991 award). In Rush Mick sings of no regrets and of keeping moving...
'If I had my time again
I would do it all the same
And not change a single thing
Even when I was to blame
For the heartache and the pain
that I've caused throughout the years
How I learnt to be a man
Through the laughter and the tears'
The song is so full of Mick Jones joie de vivre you can practically hear his wonky toothed grin as it plays and his continuing love of sampling is evident with borrowed sections from The Who, Deep Purple, Tommy Roe, The Sugarhill Gang and Peter Sellers.
'Now I'm fully grown
And I know where it's at
Somehow I stayed thin
While the other guys got fat
All the chances that I've blown
And the times that I've been down
I didn't get too high
Kept my feet on the ground'
Mick was still playing Rush when touring with the Justice Tonight crew in 2011- he definitely played it The Ritz in Manchester, Pete Wylie sharing the mic and The Farm backing him. The release of it as the AA side to Should I Stay Or Should I Go? caught him a bit of flak from people accusing him of cashing in the back of The Clash's belated number 1 single, but the whole Levi's re-release was a cash-in, so why not? Across a multitude of formats there are at least eight different versions of Rush. This one is the album mix.
Friday, 23 February 2018
There are songs from the late 80s and early 90s which I didn't buy at the time, songs I have never owned until getting mp3s of them in recent years, but which I know inside out. This is because-
a) you can't buy everything
b) limited budget
and c) record buying priorities.
It's probably also the case that there was some stuff I dismissed a bit at the time but which really sank in to my musical memories and in retrospect (or actually at the time) liked.
Tom's Diner, the 1990 DNA remix of Suzanne Vega's 1981 written but 1987 released song, is one of those songs. Everything is utterly familiar and known inside out, from the da-da-da-duh intro to the chugging Soul II Soul beat, every line of the lyrics, the grinding bassline and then the cathedral bells as the whole thing seems to slow down.
Tom's Diner (DNA Remix)
DNA remixed it without permission and distributed limited quantities on white label. The record label, A&M, heard about it, liked it and rather than sue DNA, sought Suzanne's approval and bought it to release officially. Which was wise as it was a massive hit in the UK (number 2) and USA (number 5). In one of those typical chart battle stories it was kept off the UK number 1 spot by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Thursday, 22 February 2018
I'm just dipping back into the Trance Europe Express compilation that made up a number of last week's posts. Several of you mentioned this song and I couldn't let it go. Charlie Hall and Lol Hammond were The Drum Club. Follow The Sun is a trip. Drums. Buzzing sounds. Ascending and descending synth lines. Vocals from Kate Holmes and Wonder. Leaves you better than it found you.
Follow The Sun (Remix)
Wednesday, 21 February 2018
In 2016 Bicep remixed 808 State's 1991 In Yer Face, taking the almost ambient two chord synth part and looping it (with that vocal sample slowed down). It gets busier in the second half, an updated version of '91, fine tuned for modern times with Bicep's trademark warmth. I can imagine it going down very well in the right places.
I'm not sure 808 State always get their dues when Manchester bands are ranked, rated and discussed. They made records that were as much part of the place as many of the more famous guitar bands and many of them have stood the test of time too. Here's the original version of In Yer Face from Ex:El.
In Yer Face
Tuesday, 20 February 2018
Ride put out a song last year, Pulsar, that ended up being one of my favourite songs of 2017- Pulsar, a dreamy bass driven guitar song about space and life and travel. They released it on vinyl last week with 3 other new songs including this one, Catch You Dreaming, a Ride song dominated by synths. Catch You Dreaming is about a couple watching the end of the universe. I like the science fiction concepts behind these songs- makes a change from the usual guitar band stuff.
The second track on the 12", Keep It Surreal, is my current pick, a short, sharp burst of guitar mangling with a falsetto vocal. You can buy it (and the whole ep) digitally or on vinyl here.
Monday, 19 February 2018
Opinion seems to be that The Clash's final album* Combat Rock is a major label attempt to break the band in the States and shift some serious units. The hit singles and the production seem to suggest that this was an album where the Sandinista! style experimentation was off the agenda in favour of stadia and the top 40. Maybe that's partly true but Combat Rock also contains some songs that only The Clash could have made and only The Clash could think were commercial. Straight To Hell goes without saying. Ghetto Defendant (with Allen Ginsberg) is a reggae blues anti-heroin lament. I've written before about the record's closing song, Death Is A Star, a 6 minute excursion into modern jazz and the nature of fame. Opening song Know Your Rights is a call to arms, a rant against government and police forces, crunching two chord agit-pop. It is followed by Car Jamming.
Car Jamming is a treat, everyone playing their part with some of Joe's most Strummer-esque lyrics. Topper sets up a tub thumping rhythm and is joined by Mick playing post-punk guitar, both paying some kind of tribute to Bo Diddley but in a very early 80s way. Paul's bass is a descending roots reggae line, low in the mix. Joe's lyrics are the icing on the cake- funky multi-nationals, King Kong, Agent Orange, gorillas and hyenas and Lauren Bacall- 'I swear fellas, Lauren Bacall!' All as seen from the window of a New York taxi in a traffic jam. And I love the way he closes with 'ah, yeah, positively, absolutely', every syllable separated.
*The proper line up's final album that is, not the rump Clash's Cut The Crap
Sunday, 18 February 2018
Last year a compilation came out on Dutch label Safe Trip called Welcome To Paradise: Italian Dream House 89-93. It was, as it suggests, a round up of Italian house music, 21 slices of late 80s and early 90s modernism. The Italian house music in the compilation is completely care free- it has none of the wonky, hard edge of Chicago or the mind melting acid of Detroit, the darkness of British house from the same period (like Voodoo Ray) or the sped up frenzy of rave and hardcore. It is beaches, bikinis and tanned skin. Drums pad away, synth lines ascend slowly, basslines are fat and warm. A lovely place to visit. The compilation is well worth picking up with a second volume is about to be released. This 1991 single from Don Carlos is not on Welcome To Paradise but is a perfect accompaniment to it.