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First Track On First Album – Yo La Tengo

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In this regular feature we celebrate that all important opening track on a debut album, because for some it may have been the first song they ever heard from that artist.

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In this issue our resident feature curator John Hartley is Hoboken, New Jersey bound as he assesses the first offering from Yo La Tengo.

Artist: Yo La Tengo
Album: Ride The Tiger
Year: 1986
Track: The Cone Of Silence

I first came across Yo La Tengo way back in the mid 1990s; until now I had no idea they had already been going for a decade at that point. My first encounter was at The Boardwalk in Manchester, as the support to Stereolab. Tim Gane stood next to me for the duration of their set. He’s not as tall as he looks on stage, but he grins and bounces the same.

At the time I thought Yo La Tengo were ok, but nothing to write home about. I could see why they supported Stereolab, and couldn’t imagine them going much further. It shows what I know; two decades on from then and they are still releasing records, despite having nearly as many bass guitarists as The Fall in their time.

Debut album ‘Ride The Tiger’ was released in 1986, and it opens with ‘The Cone Of Silence’, a very good stab at a perfect three-minute pop song. Reminscent of The Go-Betweens, the track fits in with the guitar bands that would ultimately become lumped together as C86 bands.

The difference here however is that the song brims with a confidence and boldness often lacking in contemporary tracks from this side of the Atlantic. Upbeat, bouncy with crisply chorused guitars and a lyrical melody to match, ‘The Cone Of Silence’ is a great album opener and sounds as fresh today as I imagine it must have back when I was still listening to Nik Kershaw…

John Hartley


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending the best part of twenty five years trying to write the perfect pop song John Hartley has turned his attention to writing about those who have done a much better job at it. He tweets as @JohnyNocash and gives away his music, generally for free. He is currently raising money to support men’s mental health charity CALM (@theCALMzone) at http://brokendownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-heed

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What first track on whose first album will John Hartley review next time?

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First Track On First Album – The Brian Jonestown Massacre

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In this regular feature we celebrate that all important opening track on a debut album, because for some it may have been the first song they ever heard from that artist.

________________________________________________________________________________

In this issue our resident feature curator John Hartley will be heading over to early 90s San Francisco to appraise The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s debut opener. Did it make his hair stand on end in the bath?

Artist: The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Album: Spacegirl And Other Favorites
Year: 1993
Track: Crushed

Today – the day of writing, not the day of your reading – I was sat nursing my ‘low mood’ in the glorious confines of The LP Café in Watford. It is a great place if you’re ever visiting the Hertfordshire town; carefully crafted coffee-based beverages, great cakes, LEGO decorations on the tables, lots of records to buy and always, ALWAYS, a record playing.

I don’t remember which record was playing when I walked in, but as I supped the last dregs of my coffee a second record came on; one that made me pay attention to the outside world for the first time in ten minutes or so. I enquired as to its title; the song transpired to be ‘Vad Hände Med Dem?’ by The Brian Jonestown Massacre. I was impressed, and told the serving gentleman so.

Walking home I realised I had completely forgotten to write the next edition of ‘First Track On First Album’. I knew EIO40HQ had suggested three possibilities. I also knew that I couldn’t remember what they were. As you will no doubt have guessed by now, one of the three was the debut album by The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Since releasing their debut single in 1992, the band have gone on to release no fewer than fifteen albums, three of which were released in one year, one of which was the fantastically titled ‘Thank God For Mental Illness’. Their most recent is the similarly-wonderfully-named ‘Mini Album Thingy Wingy’. But I digress…

The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s debut album was entitled ‘Spacegirl and Other Favorites’. My friend reckons she would have made a great A&R person and can judge the greatness or otherwise of a song within the first ten seconds. It’s lucky she wasn’t working for one of the five labels who released this album, as the first track ‘Crushed’ has a barely audible first ten seconds, succeeded by a howl of guitar feedback lasting a further sixty seconds before the fuzzy guitar riff comes into play.

I have promised to do my friend a compilation CD (or mix-tape, as we used to call them in the good old days) on the condition that she at least gives the songs up until the end of the first chorus before casting them aside. I wondered how long into ‘Crushed’ it would be before the first chorus arrived. I eventually realised it wasn’t going to arrive. Not that that is a bad thing, of course: I like it when bands break the rules a bit.

If ‘Crushed’ was the first thing I had ever heard by The Brian Jonestown Massacre I suspect that in all honesty I would not bother to pursue them. However, there is clearly far more to them than just one track, and a longevity and back catalogue to match suggests as much. Perhaps they are one of those rarities, the band that only improves with age. I’m going to investigate further their 2014 album ‘Revelation’ on the basis of the track I heard this morning, and then maybe work my way backwards to find further gems.

John Hartley


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending the best part of twenty five years trying to write the perfect pop song John Hartley has turned his attention to writing about those who have done a much better job at it. He tweets as @JohnyNocash and gives away his music, generally for free. He is currently raising money to support men’s mental health charity CALM (@theCALMzone) at http://brokendownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-heed

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What first track on whose first album will John Hartley review next time?

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First Track On First Album – Curve

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In this regular feature we celebrate that all important opening track on a debut album, because for some it may have been the first song they ever heard from that artist.

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In this issue our resident feature curator John Hartley will be putting on his horror head in order to assess Curve’s debut opener. Will it be a fait accompli?

Artist: Curve
Album: Doppelgänger
Year: 1992
Track: Already Yours

In what would become typical fashion, I was put off Curve by the NME, Melody Maker and the music press in general before I had ever even really given them a chance. Nowadays I can put this down to my youthful naivety that journalists reported what they found rather than creating an idea they could then perpetuate into a self-fulfilling prophecy. You see, in 1990 four quite shy lads with a phobia of barbers had formed a band, and when they played their rather fine songs they looked down rather than staring the audience in the eye. The ‘Shoegazing’ genre was thus born, and into it thrown any number of similarly styled bands. I assumed it was just a case of bandwagon-jumping by musicians in search of a quick rise to fame; these days I realise it was just a lazy way for journalists to lump a load of different bands into one easy category.

As a consequence, much as I loved RIDE I had little time for the likes of Slowdive, Chapterhouse, Lush and so on; all bands with their own influences, their own style and sound, yet all categorized the same. On the periphery of this genre could be found Curve, whose debut album ‘Doppelgänger’ found its way onto the record shelves in 1992. Does the album opener ‘Already Yours’ stand the test of time? I’ve never heard it, so here goes…

On first listen it is easy to pick out both influencers and influencees; certainly lines of melody from Garbage’s ‘Stupid Girl’ and Frente’s ‘What’s Come Over Me’ spring to mind, whilst Curve themselves sound more like The Cocteau Twins than RIDE. Toni Halliday has a strong voice which harmonises delicately over the wall of guitars and backing vocals provided by Dean Garcia. The bridge does what a bridge should but frequently fails to do, providing a pleasant detour between the melodiously vocal first half and the largely instrumental second half.

This is a great opening track to a debut album: a bold statement of intent that gives a perfect taste of what would follow. ‘Already Yours’ stands as a perfect illustration of a lesson it took me a long time to learn – judge a band by their music, not by the ‘scene’ into which they are lumped by the music press. The album itself would reach number 11 in the album charts, and paved the way for a career lasting a further four studio albums.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending the best part of twenty five years trying to write the perfect pop song John Hartley has turned his attention to writing about those who have done a much better job at it. He tweets as @JohnyNocash and gives away his music, generally for free. He is currently raising money to support men’s mental health charity CALM (@theCALMzone) at http://brokendownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-heed

_________________________________________________________________________________

What first track on whose first album will John Hartley review next time?

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Great Lost Indie Bands #3 – Ludicrous Lollipops

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In this regular feature hosted by Simon Smith (@HertfordSoul) we will be re-discovering some lost indie favourites who didn’t quite make the grade and have since disappeared off many people’s radars.

We’ll be featuring one Great Lost Indie Band each time and, in true indie style, we’ll be following the ‘Who? Why?’ Where? format (copyright Jesus Jones). ‘Who are they?’, Why are they a Great Lost Indie Band?’ ‘Where are they now?

Of course there are only so many bands a middle aged indie kid can muster so, once Simon has posted a few of his own chosen long lost gems, he’ll be opening this feature up to the rest of the Everything Indie Over 40 community to share theirs.

In this edition, Simon turns his attention to….

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Great Lost Indie Bands #3 – LUDICROUS LOLLIPOPS

Who are they?

Ludicrous Lollipops were perhaps the greatest band to ever come out of Coventry (*ducks tomatoes being thrown by fans of The Specials & Adorable*). They were a 4 piece consisting of Simon, Lol, Chris and Alan.  Simon used to drum in The Candy Thieves, who then became Adorable, before he left to concentrate on his far superior band (*ducks again*).  They released 3 E.P.s and a 6 inch (yep, that’s 6 inch – cool, eh?!) single before it started to go downhill and one of the members left.

I first read about The Lollies in the music press when Steve Lamacq wrote a live review of them.  He likened them to Mega City 4, one of my favourite bands at the time, and I just had to check them out.  Not long after Gary Crowley played them on his GLR show – the song ‘Lies about my life’ (YouTube clip below), and I found out they were playing the brilliant Chelmsford Y Club, which was only a short train ride from my home town of Brentwood.  My life was about to change…

Why are they a Great Lost Indie Band?

I’ve seen a lot of bands in the last 25 years but, hands down, that was one of my favourite gigs ever!  The music was brilliant, it was a great, small, intimate venue and the atmosphere in the crowd was amazing.  I ended up buying a ‘Scrumdiddlyumptious’ (the name of the E.P. ‘Lies about my life’ was on) long sleeve top, which I ended up wearing until it pretty much disintegrated (I think it said ‘Scoff that lot, big mouth!’ on the back) – I was falling madly in love with this band.  So what did I do?  I ended up writing letters to them, of course! I sent them stuff, they sent me stuff, I told them about a girl at school I fancied (please don’t laugh!), they gave me some advice on this. It was the start of a beautiful relationship.

When a few of us went to see ‘The Cult in the Park’ gig in 1992, I was wearing my ‘Scrumdiddlyumptious’ top and someone called me over to them. It turned out to be Simon’s (lead singer) brother, we had a chat, spoke at length about our love for the band, and then parted ways.  He was a lovely man.

The band played the Y Club shortly after that and this time it was even better, I knew more of their songs, people were dancing, the crowd got a special mention in the Ludicrous Lollipops monthly newsletter.  I ended up buying a blue band t-shirt with a dayglo front and the words ‘Scruffy Little Git’ on the back. I bloody loved that top!  Indie life was perfect.

That summer I went to my first festival (Reading ’92) and again I was wearing one of my Ludicrous Lollipops shirts and Simon’s brother saw me.  A couple of the band members were with him and we got chatting.  They were one of the first bands I’d ever spoken to and they were so friendly, I felt like a lifelong friendship was being forged.  They invited me to their tent later for a party and I went back to see my friends to tell them, bursting with excitement.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find The Lollies’ tent when I went looking for it so that was the last I saw of them.  Not only that but they split up a few months later. I often wonder whether if I had found their tent, and attended their party that night, they’d still be with us…Or maybe they just gave me the wrong directions so that ‘the sad bloke who keeps asking us for advice on his love life doesn’t turn up!’

Where are they now?

Simon went on to manage fellow Coventry band Adorable but I can’t find anything about Lol, Chris or Alan.  If you know them please tell them I’m married with two kids now so don’t need their relationship advice anymore and would still like to be their friends if they’ll have me.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with ‘Lies about my life’.  What a band…


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Failed Rock Star in awful early 90s grunge band, Prehistoric Wife, failed blogger with dad blog ‘musodad’ and collaborative music blog ‘Session Bloggers’, Simon went solo in 2013 with the release of his own music blog ‘Hertford Soul’.

With over 6 months without a post, Simon was recently plucked from obscurity by the lovely people at EIO40 with a chance to resurrect his music blogging career. Many have likened the transfer to the risk Brendan Rodgers took in signing Mario Balotelli but Simon sees himself as more of a Rickie Lambert-type blogger. Erm, hang on a minute…

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What great lost indie band will Simon be tracking down next?

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Great Lost Indie Bands #2- Sweet Jesus

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In this regular feature hosted by Simon Smith (@HertfordSoul) we will be re-discovering some of our long lost indie favourites who didn’t quite make the grade and have since disappeared off many people’s radars.

We’ll be featuring one Great Lost Indie Band each time and, in true indie style, we’ll be following the ‘Who? Why?’ Where? format (copyright Jesus Jones). ‘Who are they?’, Why are they a Great Lost Indie Band?’ ‘Where are they now?

Of course there are only so many bands a middle aged indie kid can muster so, once Simon has posted a few of his own chosen long lost gems, he’ll be opening this feature up to the rest of the Everything Indie Over 40 community to share theirs.

In this edition, Simon turns his attention to….

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Great Lost Indie Bands #2 – SWEET JESUS

Who are they?

Sweet Jesus were a 4 piece indie band from Birmingham, consisting of Ben, Roy, Gavin (Dave prior to him) & Paul. They released 4 singles between 1991 and 1992 but unfortunately an album never appeared. Like Formula One before them, their name has now been stolen by a hardcore punk band from New England, far from the shoegazer style of the original band.

I first discovered Sweet Jesus on a cassette that came free with an Indie fanzine (which I can’t remember the name of). The song ‘Albino Ballerina’ was included on there and I instantly loved it. Not that long after I went to my first Reading Festival (1992) and they really impressed me live. I thought this could be the start of a beautiful musical friendship but unfortunately they wouldn’t be around for much longer.

Why are they a Great Lost Indie Band?

Just listen to ‘Albino Ballerina’ (YouTube clip below) and you’ll see for yourself, it’s a great tune. Ben’s vocals remind me a bit of one of my current favourites, Gengahr, but a lot more shoegazey, of course.

Unfortunately, even though they were tipped as “ones to watch” in the music press in the early 90s, the demise of Rough Trade Records also saw the band call it a day.

Before they did, however, they appeared on MTV’s 120 Minutes which in those days was great exposure for up and coming indie bands.

Where are they now?

Each of the members went on to form various bands after Sweet Jesus – Venus, Groupie and, more recently, Butterfly Fan the Inferno – but nothing hooked me like when I first heard them on that fanzine tape. I just wish I still had it, the only other band I remember on there were the excellent Magic Faraway Tree Band with the song “I love life”. Another Great Lost Indie Band to add to the list…

Anyway, here’s ‘Albino Ballerina’, enjoy…


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Failed Rock Star in awful early 90s grunge band, Prehistoric Wife, failed blogger with dad blog ‘musodad’ and collaborative music blog ‘Session Bloggers’, Simon went solo in 2013 with the release of his own music blog ‘Hertford Soul’.

With over 6 months without a post, Simon was recently plucked from obscurity by the lovely people at EIO40 with a chance to resurrect his music blogging career. Many have likened the transfer to the risk Brendan Rodgers took in signing Mario Balotelli but Simon sees himself as more of a Rickie Lambert-type blogger. Erm, hang on a minute…

_________________________________________________________________________________

What great lost indie band will Simon be tracking down next?

Read more

First Track On First Album – New FADS

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In this regular feature we celebrate that all important opening track on a debut album, because for some it may have been the first song they ever heard from that artist.

_________________________________________________________________________________

In this issue will our resident feature curator John Hartley be partial to a bit of this after casting his fishes eyes over……

Artist: New Fast Automatic Daffodils
Album: Pigeonhole
Year: 1990
Track: Get Better 

As is quite often the case, the support band is a mere periphery to the main act, and it was exactly the case in summer 1989 when this young, eager and enthusiastic James fan sighed his way through the set by up-and-coming-Manchester-band New Fast Automatic Daffodils. I quite wanted to love them, but their angular, sparse sound, heavy in bass and percussion didn’t really work for me. So I left my interest there.

Two years later I could be found scouring the racks of Fenham Library’s cassette collection in Newcastle, borrowing ‘Body Exit Mind’ alongside a much-renewed and never-completed hardback copy of ‘War and Peace’. Here was an album that made sense to me, and I listened to it considerably. A further two years on and my friend and bandmate introduced me to a promotional copy of ‘Love It All’; in some parts better, in others inferior to its predecessor.

To this date, however, I have never given ‘Pigeonhole’, the debut album by New Fast Automatic Daffodils, much attention. I borrowed a copy from my brother-in-law and didn’t listen to it. I found it on Spotify and didn’t listen to it. Maybe it’s the cover artwork, which so often persuades me to listen rather than the other way round, or maybe it’s the recollection of the heat-induced impatience before the James gig. Who knows?

Opening track ‘Get Better’ is pretty much what we would come to love and expect from New FADS, as they would come to be known. It starts off sounding like warped vinyl, which would have fooled me if I wasn’t listening digitally. A pulsating rhythm punctuated by the band’s trademark percussion leads us into the flat-vowelled vocal delivery of Andy Spearpoint before an angry guitar riff announces its arrival. There really isn’t anything in this opening track that justifies my earlier dismissiveness. The album made the UK Top 50, which is a creditable achievement, especially given the tendency of the music press to lump the band in with the ‘Madchester scene’ when their sound and style couldn’t have been much further away.

As first track on a first album, ‘Get Better’ certainly marks a clear statement of intent; the sound and style of this changes little over the course of the band’s three albums. If you like this, then definitely explore their later works. Me, I’m exploring backwards now!


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending the best part of twenty five years trying to write the perfect pop song John Hartley has turned his attention to writing about those who have done a much better job at it. He tweets as @JohnyNocash and gives away his music, generally for free. He is currently raising money to support men’s mental health charity CALM (@theCALMzone) at http://brokendownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-heed

_________________________________________________________________________________

What first track on whose first album will John Hartley review next time?

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Great Lost Indie Bands #1 – Formula One

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In this regular feature hosted by Simon Smith (@HertfordSoul) we will be re-discovering some of our long lost indie favourites who didn’t quite make the grade and have since disappeared off many people’s radars.

We’ll be featuring one Great Lost Indie Band each time and, in true indie style, we’ll be following the ‘Who? Why?’ Where? format (copyright Jesus Jones). ‘Who are they?’, Why are they a Great Lost Indie Band?’ ‘Where are they now?

Of course there are only so many bands a middle aged indie kid can muster so, once Simon posted a few of his own chosen long lost gems, he’ll be opening this feature up to the rest of the Everything Indie Over 40 community to share theirs.

In this edition, Simon turns his attention to….

_________________________________________________________________________________

Great Lost Indie Bands #1 – FORMULA ONE

Who are they?

Formula One were a 5 piece indie band from Preston who released a number of singles and an album between 1996 and 2000. Oh and they’re not to be confused with a Seattle skate punk band of the same name, in fact, you couldn’t get two bands who were more different. Saying that, they both formed and split up around the same time – coincidence?!

In the mid 90s, due to the lack of that very handy thing we call ‘the internet’, you had to rely on other methods in which to discover new bands. A lot of the bands I fell in love with I would have found through reading about them in the music press, seeing them on the ITV Chart Show, The Beat or Snub TV or hearing them on John Peel or Gary Crowley’s show on GLR on a Sunday afternoon. Formula One were different though, as soon as I heard that Martin Carr and Tim Brown from The Boo Radleys were producing one of their singles that was it, I had to get involved.

Why are they a Great Lost Indie Band?

They had great tunes, melodic and catchy. One music magazine said they were like ‘The Fall playing Krautrock’. Unfortunately they arrived just at the wrong time, at the tail end of Britpop, a scene that they just wouldn’t have fitted into. Then all everyone wanted to hear was ‘OK Computer’ and ‘Urban Hymns’ and if I ever see them again I’ll have to apologise as I was one of them.

But, it was good while it lasted. I remember seeing them at The Hacienda before it closed down, they were bloody nice people and I had a really good chat with them after the gig. I used to send them Christmas cards and write to them (I liken it to tweeting band members nowadays). In return they used to sign their singles for me (see the photo my singles collection of theirs below, Siggy is my nickname by the way).

I once asked them in a letter what time they were playing the Reading Festival and gave them my mum and dad’s number (it would have been during my Uni summer holiday) and the lead singer Lee phoned me up to tell me! Bands would never do that nowadays, would they?! You’re lucky if they tweet you back. Saying that they probably get loads of tweets – Formula One may have only had one saddo who wrote to them.

Formula One single collection

Where are they now?

Being such a ‘lost band’ it has been really difficult finding much info about them online.

Dave Chambers, the drummer, was in Cornershop and a band called Pastel Collision (anyone know anything about them? They could feature in a future Great Lost Indie Band post if so) before he joined Formula One and it sounds like he went on to form The Wandering Step, another local Preston band, when he left.

As for the remaining members, another Dave, Lee, Kerrie (who was also in Pastel Collision) and Emma, I’m struggling to find anything on them, they are well and truly ‘lost’. It’s a shame as they were all brilliant musicians who were different to anything else out there at the time. I’d love to know where they ended up.

Check them out if you get the chance, their back catalogue is on www.discogs.com if you want to take a punt. Like I said, there’s not much about them online. I did find a recording of one of their singles though, ‘Aqua Manera’ and a YouTube link is below. This is one of the songs produced by Martin and Tim Boo and once you hear the ‘Lazarus’-style Spanish trumpets you’ll see what influence they had on it.


 

Anyway, best be off, I need to see what this Pastel Collision band are all about. Until next time…

UPDATE FROM SIMON 

The Formula One post I wrote made it’s way over to Canada recently and was picked up by Lee Nicholson, the former lead singer of the band. We had a chat over email and he’s managed to fill in a few gaps of what happened to the rest of the band since Formula One stopped playing together – in Lee’s own words “Formula One never officially disbanded, it just kind of fizzled out”.

They recruited a sixth member of the band (Miles) and him, Lee, Kerrie and Dave the guitarist moved to Brighton, formed the band Domestic4 and released an album and two EPs. More information on these releases can be found here :

http://www.discogs.com/artist/1572356-Domestic-4

Even though they have now all gone their separate ways, they all still keep in touch but, since moving across the pond, Lee has been working on a solo project called Electrohome and here is a link to some of his songs :

https://electrohomemusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-way-we-were-and-are

It’s great and I highly recommend you have a listen.

I feel my job now is to get the original line-up back over here to reform for a 20th Anniversary gig – you never know…”.

_________________________________________________________________________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Failed Rock Star in awful early 90s grunge band, Prehistoric Wife, failed blogger with dad blog ‘musodad’ and collaborative music blog ‘Session Bloggers’, Simon went solo in 2013 with the release of his own music blog ‘Hertford Soul’.

With over 6 months without a post, Simon was recently plucked from obscurity by the lovely people at EIO40 with a chance to resurrect his music blogging career. Many have likened the transfer to the risk Brendan Rodgers took in signing Mario Balotelli but Simon sees himself as more of a Rickie Lambert-type blogger. Erm, hang on a minute…

_________________________________________________________________________________

What great lost indie band will Simon be tracking down next? 

Read more

First Track On First Album – PJ Harvey

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In this regular feature we celebrate that all important opening track on a debut album, because for some it may have been the first song they ever heard from that artist.

_________________________________________________________________________________

In this issue will John Hartley be left happy and bleeding in that dress after considering….

Artist: PJ Harvey
Album: Dry
Year: 1992
Track: Oh My Lover

PJ Harvey was introduced to me by the NME. Not in person, obviously; that would be a tale for a different section of the website. I began reading the NME in my teenage rebellion years. For some, that rebellion might have been taking up smoking, daubing graffiti on walls and hanging round the precinct. For me it was not tucking in my school shirt or only applying to polytechnics instead of universities. Rebellion also included liking alternative music that nobody else could possibly like and the NME was a champion of such music. So when the NME championed an act like PJ Harvey I was duty bound to rebel against the NME and categorically dismiss it without even the merest listen.

I didn’t escape PJ completely; she appeared on two tracks by fellow Dorset-originees The Family Cat. Her vocals enhanced the single ‘Colour Me Grey’, although her contribution to ‘River of Diamonds’ was less complimentary, so I wasn’t persuaded to investigate further. Of course, in the early stages at least PJ Harvey was more than just Polly Jean Harvey; it was a proper band just named after their singer. ‘Dry’ was to become the springboard for much greater things, garnering much critical acclaim along the way and in 2013 Polly was awarded the MBE for services to music.

‘Oh My Lover’ is the track that kicks off the album that was Polly’s first and, as like many artists in similar positions, what she thought might be her only. In the event, this Too Pure-released album was to provoke a major label bidding war and a year later a second album would be released on Island records. A strong voice and chime of guitar bring this debut album to an immediate awakening before a bass-heavy riff leads the song onwards. Slow, brooding and angry in equal measure, in hindsight it is easy to see what all the fuss was about. ‘Oh My Lover’ is a definite statement of intent and well worth a listen for anyone else like me who had never previously given PJ Harvey the time of day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending the best part of twenty five years trying to write the perfect pop song John Hartley has turned his attention to writing about those who have done a much better job at it. He tweets as @JohnyNocash and gives away his music, generally for free, at brokendownrecords.bandcamp.com

What first track on whose first album will John Hartley review next time?

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Barney reviews “Sensitive” By The Field Mice

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Barney Croker is our mysterious Stig-like reviewer, who will be regularly road testing an indie classic completely virgin to their ears. He gives it straight but without the hate.

In this edition Barney appraises:-

The Field Mice – Sensitive (1989)

Absolutely no chance this could be mistaken for being from any other time than the post-C86 80s.

It reminds me very much of the Woodentops, but a Woodentops who were unable to utilise a decent producer and/or decent recording studio.

It’s a shame, because there is actually a very pleasant song and some good musicianship lurking beyond that standard production. The bassline is particularly enjoyable, and the backing lead guitar sounds pretty good. The rhythm guitar bursts (reminiscent of Public Image by Public Image Ltd) are somewhat overmixed and too abrasive to suit the actual prettiness of the song.

Lyrically I have no idea! I guess he’s bemoaning a lost love or something! But lyrics are always secondary to me anyway.

At just over 5 minutes, it’s a little bit longer than these sort of songs would normally be, unless it’s a short-change 12″ version that I’ve been listening to. If this is the standard song, then I admire their adventurousness in having a long play-out, which I guess is counter balancing the fact that the song lacks a middle-eight section. It does carry quite well and the chorus chord changes suit the play out, but the muddy production mars the interest that this would normally hold for me. New Order are the masters of the long playout after all!

All in all, I quite like it as a song and I like the idea of the long instrumental playout. But the production quality does stop me from wanting to give it regular listens.

I can well imagine this as being one of those songs that sounds much better live than the studio version.

What indie classic will Barney Croker review next time?

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First Track On First Album – Ned’s Atomic Dustbin

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In this regular feature we celebrate that all important opening track on a debut album, because for some it may have been the first song they ever heard from that artist.

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In this issue John Hartley relaxes in his father’s favourite chair and casts his salty sore eyes over….

Artist: Ned’s Atomic Dustbin

Album: God Fodder

Year: 1991

Track: Kill Your Television 

I was still at school when I first heard of Neds Atomic Dustbin. So were they. A quintet from the West Midlands, an area already providing plenty for the indie masses in the shape of The Wonder Stuff, The Mighty Lemon Drops, Pop Will Eat Itself amongst others. The band were brought to my attention by an unlikely acquaintance not known for being a doyenne of alternative music at the time. The acquaintance was one of a pair of twins (stupid statement really, as twins don’t come in groups other than pairs, but I digress) and both appeared to be on quite friendly terms with the band, exchanging letters and so forth.

I dutifully bought Neds’ debut, the ‘Ingredients ep’, partly on the twin’s recommendation and partly (not for the first or last time) on the grounds that ‘it might be worth something one day’. I didn’t buy anything else by them, but remained aware of their existence for some time. The ‘Ingredients’ ep garnered much praise; sufficient for their subsequent works to propel them into the realms of fame if not fortune.

‘Kill Your Television’ was to be Neds’ second single, and backed up by tour supports with The Wonder Stuff made the top of the indie charts and a creditable number 52 in the ‘proper’ charts. A feisty guitar effort driven along by the relatively unusual backline of drums and two bass guitars, ‘Kill Your Television’ probably remains the fans’ favourite and was an obvious choice as opening track on the band’s debut album. Released on their own label via Sony Records, ‘God Fodder’ continued the vein of chunky, high-energy guitar pop songs with which Neds Atomic Dustbin became synonymous. ‘Kill Your Television’ meanwhile was to find its way onto Playstation and Xbox football game soundtracks a decade and a half after it set the scene for that debut album.

What first track on whose first album will John Hartley review next time?

 

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