Fresh from submerging himself knee deep in the world of The Railway Children courtesy of his wonderful item for Toppermost, John Hartley managed to keep the momentum going by checking them out in the flesh.
Here is John’s Gig Night review of The Railway Children at The Lexington, London on Saturday 18th March 2017…
Up a narrow and steep steel staircase with perhaps one or two too many steps is a room filled largely with men of hair greying and thinning – where it exists at all – and waistbands expanded more than their owners might choose. At the bar a man begrudges the £5 price of a bottle of ale, whilst noticing the barely-discreet notices advising patrons that ‘Earplugs are available: just ask at the bar’. We’re getting old folks, we’re getting old.
The gathered throng, and there are a fair number of us, are present to greet long-absent friends, friends who only came back into our midst last year after a hiatus lasting well over 20 years. The last time I saw The Railway Children was in a rampant hometown gig on Wigan Pier. Buoyed by finally breaking into the Top 40 singles chart, the band were in great form, the crowd roared them on, bassist Stephen Hull departed stage left momentarily to be sick, and t-shirts cost a tenner.
At The Lexington in 2017 it feels like the band has never been away. Always a good-looking band they have aged as much as their music: very well. Sure, there may be a bit of stubble (shaving gets to be such a chore, doesn’t it) and silvery receding hairline, but not much else has changed. Gary Newby still looks youthful and sings with rich tone, Hull still plays the bass like it’s the easiest thing in the world, Guy Keegan still keeps impeccable time and drives the more uptempo songs along, and Brian Bateman still looks like he’s enjoying every minute of strumming Newby’s perfectly crafted pop songs, even when he forgets to change to the second chord of a two-chord song (the band’s debut single ‘A Gentle Sound’) within the first three bars.
With nothing to promote and no longer having to play the part of a mere cog in the wheels of the music industry machine The Railway Children can offer a relaxed and varied set. There is little room for chat – a wry “This was our hit single” introducing ‘Every Beat Of The Heart’ being as close to banter as Newby gets – but that means more time for songs. All three band albums are covered well, there’s the inevitable run out of most – but not all – the singles and, most pleasingly, space for some b-sides: ‘After The Rain’, ‘History Burns’ and ‘Darkness And Colour’ all get a run out.
As the set proceeds, so the performances get stronger and better. ‘Somewhere South’ sounds as good as it ever has, recorded or live. Slower songs such as ‘Big Hands Of Freedom’ are given space to breathe and flourish. Final album title track ‘Native Place’ shows Newby’s voice at its best. The tunes come thick and fast, culminating with “our last song, which was also our first song”: ‘A Gentle Sound’. A quick dash off stage, then back on, and we are treated to the almost inevitable encore ‘Brighter’, a song whose outro could go on forever and still not seem too long. And that’s it: off stage they head, the lights come on, the DJ’s playlist resumes and we all head home, some of us with a souvenir t-shirt that cost a mere £12 – another pleasant reminder that not everything has to change.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about John’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @IndieOver40
In this regular feature we ask the Everything Indie Over 40 social media community to help us compile a top ten list of a chosen topic. Our resident curator John Hartley (@JohnyNocash) then ponders, disects and finally presents.
In this edition:-
The Indie Top Ten Songs With Numbers In The Title
It’s never a good sign when the morning music-to-work ritual becomes stale. Sometimes spoilt for choice, sometimes finding nothing fits the mood of the day, I decided to shake things up a little bit by taking inspiration from EIO40 Community member @maffrj. Nothing too drastic, you understand: I wasn’t about to start listening to Acid Jazz, tempting though that might be sometimes.
No; I decided I’d listen to the entirety of my iPod collection in alphabetical order, by song title. By the time I was at Y this mammoth trek was almost at an end, I thought, completely forgetting about ‘Zeus’ by British Sea Power. And ‘Zombie’ by The Band of Holy Joy. Oh, and ‘Zorbing’ by Stornoway. But at least I could return to listening to whole albums at a time.
It was then that I remembered about songs beginning with numbers… There were loads. I was surprised at just how many were on my iPod. My brain began to creak into action: this would make a good Top Ten for the EIO40 site. So, with a doffed cap to Matt, here is the EIO40 Top Ten Indie Songs With Numbers In Their Titles.
1. Joy Zipper – “1”
This seems as good a place as any to start, so thanks to @infolib_robin & @Archieboyo for suggesting the Joy Zipper’s track. 1 was the house number of my childhood home. It was the number I had on the back of my shirt when I played in goal for the school team as a teenager. It was also the minimum number of goals I conceded in my four matches before being dropped.
2. Thousand Yard Stare –“0-0 a.e.t (no score after extra time)”
‘0-0 AET’. Now here was a score of which I could only dream as a player. Having said that, I have been witness to sufficient matches ending in that score as a spectator to realise the immense pain such tedium can bring.
My favourite recollection is of watching my adopted hometown Watford playing against Accrington Stanley in a cup game. No shots on target for either side in normal time. No goals in extra time, but one lengthy stoppage due to injury. As the stadium announcer informed us that ‘The Assistant Referee has indicated there will be a minimum of five minutes additional time’ at the end of the second half of extra time, the bloke next to me stood up and bellowed pleadingly “Oh come on, referee: we want to go home!”.
Luckily, this Thousand Yard Stare track nominated by @martarse is more entertaining.
3. Sonic Youth –“100%”
Perhaps the problem lay in the fact that this was only the 2nd Round of the English League Cup – not even the FA Cup – and without wishing to disrespect Accrington Stanley they were hardly likely to be the biggest draw for the townsfolk of Watford on an unseasonally chilly Tuesday evening. Things might have been altogether different if those selected to play in their team’s colours gave the 110% oft-quoted by managers. As it was, they seemed barely able to muster the ‘100 per cent’ that Sonic Youth sing about in the track suggested by @tmulraney
4. Jamie T –“368”
The attendance that night, according to the SkySports website (I do try and do a bit of research as well as just padding out these lists with waffle) was 8368. It is at this point in the story that @LanceDrysdale starts to get excited, as the attendance provides possible my most tenuous ever link to a song, a song that he nominated. Take away the 8,000 who regretted going to the match and you’ll be left with ‘368’, the exact same number as the title of this from Jamie T.
5. The Frank & Walters –“20 Years”
That particular evening was over two hours of my life I will never be able to recover, although it felt more like ’20 Years’. Much can happen in two decades; football teams can get promoted, relegated, then promoted again, players can become managers and then TV pundits, the England team can fail to win 10 international competitions, pop bands will form, split up and reform. The Frank And Walters however have managed to keep going for even longer than that, and thanks are due to @chumpski for their inclusion in this Top Ten.
6. Factory Floor –“16-16-9-20-1-14-9-7”
In collating all your submissions for this Top Ten I was quite surprised at the variety and context of numbers on offer, from the lazy swapping of a word for a number (2 and 4 being the worst culprits, naturally) on one hand, to almost impenetrable rationale on the other. Maybe @pillshark73 might be able to reveal more behind of the thinking behind Factory Floor’s ‘16-16-9-20-1-14-9-7’. Maybe it’s their bank account number?
7. Six By Seven –“88-92-96”
If it is indeed the band’s bank account number, they could at least have provided us with the Sort Code. You know, the six digit number that tells one bank exactly which other bank to ask for money from when you write a cheque. I write this secure in the knowledge that everyone in the EIO40 age range will know what I mean by the word ‘cheque’.
I did for a minute consider that Six by Seven were presenting us with a Sort Code via their @MUSESFAN2-nominated track ‘88-92-96’, but maybe it’s just a list of European Championships that England failed to win.
8. Poppy Factory –“7×7”
The above nomination serves to highlight some of the confusion heaped upon the poor, ageing indie-loving community to which we belong. Sorry? What’s that? Less of the ‘poor’? As you wish. You see, we asked for numbers in songs as digits rather than words. So a song titled ‘Six by Seven’ would not have been allowed, whilst a song titled ‘7×7’ is allowed. Consequently, Poppy Factory are included in this top 10, thanks to @sharkastic
9. Red House Painters –“24”
As anybody with at least half the mathematical skills that I possess will be able to testify instantly, the answer to the sum 7×7 is, of course 24. Fortunate for me then that @GeeBeeMan suggested including this Red House Painters song, entitled ‘24’. I would have been stuffed if the real answer was something as random as, say, 49 because nobody suggested any songs with that in the title. Where would I be without a bit of luck, eh?
10. Film School – “11:11”
Actually, I know exactly where I’d be without a bit of luck. I would be stood pulling what’s left of my hair out watching an interminable penalty shoot-out between a club who once finished 2nd in the English league and one who went bust and dropped out decades earlier.
I would be cursing the inability of the players to kick the ball into the net rather than at the goalkeeper, the metal post and crossbar or the wider environs of Vicarage Road. I would be wondering if I would make the last bus, with the paranoid sensation that both Film School and @fatspider0 are laughing at me. I would be looking down at my watch to check the time: ‘7am’.
John Hartley _______________________________________________________________________________
Following our previous forays in to the world of “Variations On The Theme of Desert Island Discs” we have another stranded soul washed up on our fictitious indie island and ready to offload their innermosts.
We were delighted that Russell wanted to contribute to the EIO40 website in some way and we felt On An Indie Island With You would be a perfect platform to discover his inner indie workings. So over to Russell…
Initially I thought choosing my Desert Island Discs would be an easy task; just choose my most played songs on Last FM. The songs that mean the most are not necessary the ones you listen to all the time.
My overwhelming love of the nineties is evident in my choices. In 1991/92 I would go to gigs at the Joiners Arms in Southampton nearly every week and I would listen to the radio constantly. Taping John Peel at night and listening to it walking to school in the morning. During this time I was a permanent fixture at the indie disco. A night called Marshmallow Moon at the Hot House in Bournemouth.
Most people would predict that my choices would be a classic shoegaze line-up; My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Ride and Lush. Well there are a few surprises!
Mercury Rev–Car Wash Hair
When this was released it was really catchy, sing-a-long chorus but incredibly weird. If you compared it to the rest of Yerself is Steam it is one of the more accessible songs. There is an effect in the song which sounds just like a submarines sonar. It conjures up memories of cycling listening to a Walkman and feeling happy that Car Wash Hair was coming up. It was not as easy to skip through songs with a Walkman as an Mp3 player, and every time you compiled a new playlist that would mean using another TDK C90.
It is easily their most well-known song and I had the pleasure of seeing them perform live supporting Ride in 1991. I remember David Baker (then vocals in Mercury Rev) rolling around on the stage floor screaming into his microphone. I don’t know if they played Car Wash Hair as most on the songs were unintelligible. I saw Mercury Rev (without Baker) again in 1999 at the V Festival. A much less chaotic show and they performed a memorable rendition of Car Wash Hair and this was the only time I have seen anyone use a Theremin live onstage.
Spiritualized –Why Don’t You Smile Now
Spiritualized at their most Primal Scream. With a bit of swagger, “Yeahs” and “Whoahs” being used throughout the song. It is a change from the usual introverted psychedelia. It has the most epic wall of sound in indie music.
This song became my Holy Grail. I only had a recording of this on tape and it was only available on the b-side of the Smile/Sway which was released in 1991. I did not get into Spiritualized until 1992 and was only aware of this song when it was incredibly difficult to get hold of the single. I wrestled with my conscience was it worth getting a postal order (it was 1992, I did not have a cheque book) and sending it to Eastern Block or Sister Ray for just one song. I never did it.
In 2003 my girlfriend of the time got the song from Napster, and then it became widely available in Spiritualized’s Complete Works.
Depeche Mode –Enjoy the Silence
This takes me back to September 2004. I was in rehabilitation after a nasty accident and I had been in hospital for 3 months. During this time I lost interest in music. Family and friends would bring in things for me to listen to or the music press and I would not be animated by this at all.
I did not have anything to play music on either. If someone brought my CD player from home it would have to be PAT tested by the hospital handyman. It all seemed too much effort as I had difficulty staying awake for over 4 hours at a time.
In the room opposite mine was a patient who must of absolutely loved Depeche Mode and Talking Heads. I really enjoyed Enjoy the Silence and Road to Nowhere second. As soon as I was released back into the community again I went into HMV and brought Depeche Mode, The Singles 86-98 and The Best of Talking Heads: Once in a Lifetime. This was the first time I had ever had any of their records.
I felt I could relate to David Gahan’s near death experiences at that time, and it seemed very poignantly coincidental.
The song reminds me of the Brit Awards in 1991. It won the Best British Single award as voted by the public. Controversially they had written to all their fanclub members and asked if they could vote for their track.
Spacemen 3 –When Tomorrow Hits
I didn’t really get into Spacemen 3 until 1998; in my early twenties. The last year of my degree, University up till that point had been a breeze. If you turned up to lectures, put something on paper, handed it in on time you got through. That had changed, I was due to leave university, in a few months and the pressure was cranked up. I didn’t know if I was going to pass, what I was going to do for work or even where I was going to live.
Every night I would come home from lectures and rest for an hour and have something to eat. Then at 6pm I would go to my room, put on Spacemen 3 and start writing up notes and essays. The drug-fuelled paranoia of Spacemen 3’s last album, Recurring, mirrored my own uncertainties about my future. Even the lonely, barren and harsh landscape of Dartmoor was reflected in the minimalistic first half of the album. The night would finish and I would go to bed. The next day would be the inevitable recurring cycle of lectures, dinner, essays and Spacemen 3.
Much of my love of C86 has come with age, this is the exception. This single used to be played every Saturday at the local indie disco. This was in the early nineties eventhough the single came out in 1986. But it is such a danceable number; I think it must have been played solidly from 1986 till 1992.
The Field Mice –This is Not Here
If there was ever a song that for me that epitomises shoegazing, it is ‘This is Not Here’. I was probably the only person into The Field Mice at school. This was when I realised that I was one of the coolest indie kids around. When I brought The Field Mice album that includes this track, I had to walk up to the counter in Our Price and they had to order it in for me. I would get respectful nods at my choices.
Then came the long wait. Cargo were the only distributer that could get the obscure indies, Our Price used to wait until they had at least six items to get from them before they placed their order. I would have to go to Our Price with my duplicate order and collect my purchase.
Lastly, there was someone at the Hothouse Bournemouth that had a Field Mice tour t-shirt. This trumped my best garment; a Thousand Yard Stare Stifled Aardvark long sleeved t-shirt.
The Stone Roses –I Am The Resurrection
I dithered putting this one forward as it has become a bit of cliché to be my age and love this song. The Stone Roses single-handedly transformed me from a football mad boy, into the indie youth culture. I constantly played this album and the closing track was the climax to a spectacular album. At the time it was really strange to me, to have a song over five minutes long.
In the Blackpool Live video Ian Brown sits on the stage towards the conclusion of ‘I am the Resurrection/ playing bongos with drumsticks. This is as iconic as Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival.
The House of Love – I Don’t Know Why I Love You
‘I Don’t Know Why I Love You’ is my favourite song by them and I will say that they have never had a bad release. Their music is like the internal monologue in my head.
I saw them perform in the day at Glastonbury in 1992. I really wanted to see them and it was one of my highlights of the festival. Pete Evans threw a broken drumstick in the crowd and I caught it. This is my most prized piece of memorabilia.
The Chrysalids –by John Wyndham
I was going to choose ‘Tai Chi Classics’ by Master Waysun Liao, but I can have this as my religious text instead of the Bible. My other top three books are ‘Vanity Fair’, ‘On the Road’ and ‘The Chrysalids’. I will go for ‘The Chrysalids’ it had me reading late into the night, the story twists and turns. It also led to the classic quote, “watch thou for the Mutant”. I am not going to say much about it because it needs to be read.
“Shall I mourn your decline with some Thunderbird wine and a black handkerchief?” Ian Dury, ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’.
I have fond memories of Thunderbird Wine and now you can’t get it at all. I did spot some on Amazon Prime but that would be £15 a bottle with the delivery. I would have a glass of Thunderbird Blue on the desert island and listen to my records.
Must Have Record
Without a doubt ‘When Tomorrow Hits’. It is my favourite song, and has the ultimate guitar wig out. When everything is coming apart, completely saturated in feedback and the whole world is collapsing. At this point they turn the volume to 11. A truly exhilarating experience.
My first indie moment was hearing The Stone Roses. I went from a school boy into football to a full-fledged baggy indie kid. My first gig was Cud at the Bournemouth International Centre, in 1991. I have never looked back since then. From Exeter Cavern, Salisbury Arts Centre, Royal Albert Hall to Glasgow Stereo I have seen most of the great indie bands. On my 40th birthday when asked if I wanted to do something special, I said that I wanted to go to There and Back Again Lane.
Other interests would be Recycling, Tai Chi and dreaming that Spacemen 3 would reform.
Thank you to Russell for that fantastic and enjoyable insight and for taking the time to contribute to EIO40. If you would like to contribute to our Indie Encounters feature and share your indie moments please email us at email@example.com or DM us on Twitter
“How do John”, went the email from EIO40HQ. “I met and interviewed Anne-Mari Davies from The Field Mice today for the website…I took a T-shirt and CD with me in the hope that she would sign them…Perhaps we can work out a joint special feature?”
It was about the same time the previous year that I first encountered the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), reading their tweets and browsing their website as I lay on the bed in the biggest trough I’d fallen into since being diagnosed with depression a few years ago. It was clear that one of the best ways to get through a low was talking. Sometimes that talking might be largely in bursts of 140 characters to complete strangers. Some shared their feelings. Some engaged in musical conversation. Some sent pictures of their cats doing bizarre things. I’ve said before and will say again; the EIO40 community were an invaluable part of my recovery.
CALM exist to raise awareness of male suicide. This is not to suggest in any way that female suicide should not be tackled or publicised; it’s just that in the UK 76% of all suicides are in males, and suicide is the most likely cause of death for men under the age of 45. According to the latest data, of UK males aged between 18 and 45 a huge 42% have considered suicide, with a third of those not wanting people to worry about them. These are scary statistics. Not every person with a mental health illness wants to kill themselves. However, I reckon that everyone who does deliberately kill themselves has a mental illness. And that’s 12 men every day.
The number 12 has lots of connotations for men (and women) of our age: 12 players in a football team (including substitute) when we were growing up, 12” of vinyl holding the extended version of our favourite track and 12 tracks on many of our favourite albums. With this in mind, and the recent EIO40 Ultimate 1980s Indie Album collaboration, it seemed the perfect number to work with.
Thus was born the idea of the EIO40 Feelgood playlist. It is probably accurate to say music permeates most of this community’s entire lives – apart from when the snooker’s on, maybe –and its effect on our emotions has been researched and written about throughout the ages. A piece of music can in turn carry us on the crest of a wave or wash us up, bruised and battered, on the shore. We often seek music for comfort, to soothe and console ourselves. So what better thing than to have a readymade toolkit for those moments when we need something to give us a lift? One song might not be enough – some of the community commented how the same songs could have different effects depending on the nature of the low mood – but with twelve to choose from there’s bound to be one that can help in some way.
And now, even better, we can see what works for our friends and acquaintances. And even better still, the sharing of the playlists has generated conversation, and conversation about shared pleasures builds trust, confidence, friendship (even if it’s only electronic), and these friendships can give someone a channel through which to communicate when other channels close down. And this might stop someone becoming another statistic.
Here are the playlists that were submitted. Take what you want from them. Me, I decided to put my playlist on my iPod, and then added another 12 from the submissions, taking songs by bands I hadn’t originally included in my list. Someone’s Track 1 became my Track 1, their Track 2 my Track 2 and so on. Thank you all for your support in this initiative to raise awareness of CALM and male suicide. Please visit www.theCALMzone.net for more information, and follow them @theCALMzone.
Please also have a listen to our special Indie Feelgood Album show where Steve from EIO40 and Johny play selected songs from the submitted albums
Paul Power’s Tache @BlazCTID
Barry Borge @BorgeBarry
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
If you follow us on Twitter or are a member of our Facebook group you will know we ran an interactive feature the aim of which was to create an indie compilation of tracks from 80s indie albums. Over the space of 3 months we built the album track by track with the help of the EIO40 community. There was both a Twitter and a Facebook album with the events run separately.
When it was finished and we had our final tracklist for both albums we thought it would be a good idea to see what alternative tracklists people could come up with following the same format. Below are the suggestions we received. If you click on the image you will see who is responsible for the tracklist.
Each track on our compilation album had to correspond with it’s track number on the original album it was on. So for example track 1 had to be the opening track on the album it came from, track 2 had to be the second track etc etc. This was the case up to track 10. For track 11, this was any song that is a higher track than the 10th on it’s album (so 11th, 12th, 13th etc). Track 12 was the final track and so had to be a closing track from an album. Also, an artist couldn’t appear on the album more than once.
We also decided to include a Bonus Track which was a song that was a non-album track released in the 1980s. So where there is a 13th track on someone’s playlist below, this is the Bonus Track.
If you would like to send us your tracklist to add to those below please DM us on Twitter (@IndieOver40) or email us indieover40@gmail
So thank you to everyone who contributed to the creation of the Ultimate 80s Indie Album on Facebook and Twitter.
In this regular feature we ask the Everything Indie Over 40 social media community to help us compile a top ten list of a chosen topic. Our resident curator John Hartley (@JohnyNocash) then ponders, disects and finally presents.
In this edition:-
The Indie Top Ten Songs With Ten Or More Words In The Title
When I was a young child I came across a book of poetry on the bookcase in the kitchen. Three poets, all from Liverpool, contributed to the anthology which was entitled ‘The Mersey Sound’. Amongst the wit and rhyme contained within was a poem whose title was almost as long as the poem itself, written by Adrian Henri:
Song For A Beautiful Girl Petrol-Pump Attendant On The Motorway
I wanted your soft verges But you gave me the hard shoulder
The art of naming a song is perhaps a bit more challenging than that of a naming a poem; after all, most poetry anthologies contain both a list of titles and an index of first lines. To be remembered effectively a song should have a catchy hook, usually a line of the song that is also the title, and consequently the shorter the better. However, taking the song as an art-form, sometimes a longer title is much more appropriate and representative of the song’s intent.
To that end, here is the Everything Indie Over 40 Top Ten Songs With Ten Or More Words In Their Title (that’s fifteen words in our own title, if you’re counting…)
For the statisticians amongst you, there were 75 different suggestions for songs to fit this category, with an average length of 12.72 words per title. That’s a total of 954 words. The shortest was, of course, only 10 words in length. The longest (by a mile?) was a nomination which clocked in at a mere 53 words, presuming of course that I didn’t lose count along the way.
I am not quite sure how impressed either the record shop counter assistant or those queuing behind @charlie_clown would have been when he asked for a copy of that Sufjan Stevens track ‘The Black Hawk War, Or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization And Still Feel Good About Yourself In The Morning, Or, We Apologize For The Inconvenience But You’re Going To Have To Leave Now, Or, “I Have Fought The Big Knives And Will Continue To Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!”’. I love this title for two reasons: firstly the indecision as to exactly which extremely long title best suits the song and secondly the generosity shown by the contraction of the words ‘You’ and ‘Are’ into ‘You’re’, just in case the title was getting too long for us to remember.
One of the many joys in a long song title is the opportunity for the writer to demonstrate the surrealism of their train of thought. Sufjan Stevens has taken many an opportunity to do this. Los Campesinos! is another act to get carried away with the length of their song titles. Both @Perlalaloca and @MerrieCityMan suggested ‘A Heat Rash In The Shape Of The Show Me State; Or Letters From Me To Charlotte’.
Quite what this heat rash looks like (apart from the Show Me State, obviously) is both unclear and intriguing. It also provides more fuel for the imagination than the alternative half of the title.
Indeed it is probably cheating by having a very long title that is basically just a collection of alternative titles for the same thing. The same would apply to songs containing brackets, especially when the brackets contain an alternative title for that song. Take, for example, The Bluetones ‘Autophilia (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love My Car)’, as nominated by @moztheboston, @bringitonskippy and @MarkMarkRoss.
Neither suggested title is in the lyric, the single word is not exactly one that is in every day use and the bracketed alternative doesn’t give the whole picture either, for as far as I can see the song doesn’t give any indication of worry in the first place. Judge for yourselves, anyway.
No, I reckon The Bluetones would have been far better off being a bit blunter, a bit more honest. Rather than hiding behind a metaphorical approach to their subject matter they could have come straight out and laid any potential anxiety on the line.
That’s what The Brilliant Corners did. Straight to the point, no messing, no need for any alternative title, no need to decipher exactly what the context might be: ‘Why Do You Have To Go Out With Him When You Could Go Out With Me’, as nominated by @Dalliance68 and @Salient Braves leaves the listener in no doubt.
That song might well have provided a post-dated musical prequel to Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poetic suggestion that “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. This of course would be of no consolation to Another Sunny Day who did nothing to dispel the Sarah Records stereotype with the title of their track ‘I’m In Love With A Girl Who Doesn’t Know I Exist’.
Maybe @MaScrieven could have a word with the girl in question for them? Or maybe ten or more words – when there are so many at our disposal it seems churlish to be selective.
Latter-day indie bands clearly learned from the dismissive approach of their predecessors – fey, twee, navel-gazing, shambling – were all terms used derogatively to label bands writing songs about personal love and emotion as opposed to the mass-market generic ‘love’ songs churned out by many major label artists. And I mean artists in the loosest sense.
The joy of indie was (is) that of independence and as such individuality. These terms certainly became associated with the next act in our Top Ten. Arctic Monkeys took a more self-deprecating approach to a similar subject matter than Another Sunny Day; “And I’m so tense, never tenser/Could all go a bit Frank Spencer?’ is a great line in the wryly-titled ‘You Probably Couldn’t See For The Lights But You Were Staring Straight At Me’. Thanks to @RiverboatCaptain, @BullAntics and @Eveshambaggy for this suggestion.
If it is better to have loved and lost, that does not mean that doing so removes any degree of pain or unhappiness. Indeed, the depth of such agony can rarely be measured, especially when concerning affairs of the heart. On their (ultimately) breakthrough album ‘Gold Mother’ James included a track entitled ‘You Can’t Tell How Much Suffering (On A Face That’s Always Smiling)’. An old adage, and one which doesn’t need the brackets if we’re being perfectly honest. Let’s not hold that against @sharkastic though, if only because it’s a very good song.
And of course, suffering is not just restricted to love and loss. Sometimes it is a direct consequence of things unrequited, or the so near-yet-so-far: Dean Holdsworth’s open goal miss in extra time of the FA Cup semi-final against Aston Villa in 2000 still brings shivers to my spine.
And there are traumas far worse than that to contend with too. Take for example the long-suffering narrator in the Half ManHalf Biscuit track ‘All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit’, nominated by both @GLPNE73 and @Carter_69, as he is handed his unemployment benefit from an old school friend; life could have turned out so, so differently.
In fact, for some people life does indeed turn out very differently. A few years ago the chippy down the road from where I lived was owned by a family, one of whom was the spitting image of Dudley Moore. Politeness meant that I never had the courage to ask her if she was actually the famous actor, but gender aside it wasn’t inconceivable.
Lots of one-time famous people return to a life of normality. Boy George was seen sweeping the streets (ok, community service was the real reason, but hey…), which makes me wonder whether the character in Kirsty MacColl‘There’s A Guy Down The Chip Shop Who Swears He’s Elvis’, nominated by @CTootell and @trustthewizards, might just be who he thought he was.
By the time you get to the end of this final paragraph you will have read 1,381words. I haven’t been counting of course; the computer does it for me. I trust you have enjoyed this snapshot of the many suggestions for inclusion in The Indie Top Ten Songs With Ten Or More Words In Their Title. If you haven’t, well, that’s just tough and my retort to you is this song, appropriately by Johnny Boy and suggested by @maffrj: ‘You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve’. So there!
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
Following our recent foray in to the world of “Variations On The Theme of Desert Island Discs” courtesy of @Shinpad11, we were delighted to be approached by another party wishing to step up to the indie confessional.
Seb Gevers aka @zerozero31 on Twitter has washed up on our indie desert island bearing only his collection of valued tunes and the memories associated with them. We’ve not known Seb a huge amount of time and in fact getting to grips with his many monikers has been a challenge in itself. Maclogg was an early trading style of @zerozero31 on Twitter and then he popped up on Facebook as Bas Gevers. When we got an email from him offering to contribute to the site, he was called Seb.
Whatever his real name, we certainly know him a lot better after reading this remarkable insight. So without waffling further we would suggest you just kick back and immerse yourself in Seb’s indie world as he guides you through his musical life.
My first musical memory comes from 1976. I had been left sitting in the car (it was the 70’s, so …) while my parents quickly went to the post office to do whatever it is you do at post offices. They must have left the radio on because, as I watched them disappear into the building, “Dancing Queen” by Abba came blasting out of the speakers. Even allowing for the fog of memory and the dreadful quality of the speakers in the car, Dancing Queen was, is, just a joyous happy song albeit with questionable lyrics (again, the 70’s …) that just puts a smile on your face whenever you hear that opening piano glissando (Editor’s note: a glide from one pitch to another, after consulting wiki).
I grew up listening to music from the 50’s and 60’s. My mother was the one with whom I share a love of music, her tastes being very broad. On any given Sunday in our house you could hear Amalia Rodrigues, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, something Tex-Mex, blues, R&B, doo-wop and, of course, Abba. My father was more into classical music and brass bands, two influences that have not, so far at any rate, rubbed off on me.
So there was always music in my life. Music remains important, because I can still hear pretty much any song and be able to relate a moment in time to it, like musical milestones on the road of my life. Looking back now on the music on my iPhone, it’s clear that my musical highway traverses the ages of 13 to about 26, which equates to the years 1982 to 1996, a golden era for indie music – post punk, new wave, C86, grunge, alt rock and Britpop. And as indie music is what this blog is all about, it comes as no surprise that having been left on a desert island, I need music to keep me company. I need indie music. The following eight are probably a good place to start …
The Lotus Eaters – The First Picture of You
Years ago, my local TV station up in Aberdeen, Grampian TV, used to kill the dead space between programmes with adverts, obviously, but occasionally also music videos. I’m not sure why they did this, but my guess is that somehow advertising revenue was hard to nail down between 3pm and 5pm, when the task of selling shampoo, tampons and washing-up powder to kids just home from school was something that even Saatchi and Saatchi would have had difficulty with.
So instead they’d play videos. And you have to remember that this was of a time when this was quite unusual for a regional broadcaster to do. Not many people had even heard of MTV, even though it had been around since 1981, so to see an actual music video was very unusual. Most of the time it was real dross, but occasionally something interesting would appear. It’s been a while, but I remember being introduced to, amongst others, Madness (“House of Fun”), The Stranglers (“Golden Brown”) and Dexys Midnight Runners (“Come on Eileen”) in this way.
They’d have played hundreds of songs I’m sure, but one in particular caught my attention. I don’t recall when I first heard it, but it must have been somewhere around 1983. Thatcher had just gotten re-elected on the back of victory in the Falklands War, the first episode of Blackadder had just been shown and I was about to go into my second year at Hazlehead Academy.
When the song came on, I stopped whatever I was doing, because in a year in which you had Wham, Culture Club, Kajagoogoo and Rod Stewart filling the charts, nothing sounded quite this different (the Flying Pickets perhaps being the exception, but, well, hey ho ..). So if you know the song, you’d know what that intro sounded like. A quiet, pulsing synth leads it off, it’s then joined by a woodblock, then even more synth voices (basically imagine any early 80’s synthesizer pad), then jangly guitar, finally a piano .. it all goes on for about a minute and half before the vocals, a bass, a particularly difficult drum pattern and lovely lyrics kick in making for a wistful tune, but a belter nevertheless.
I had no idea what the song was called, or who the artist was. In the days before you had SoundCloud on your smartphone (or you even had a phone, or the internet for that matter), there was no alternative other than to sit in front of the telly every afternoon waiting for the commercial breaks between episodes of the godawful “A Country Practice” and reruns of “Columbo” hoping that it would come on again so I could get my fix of not only the song, but also the rather delightful young lady in the video.
Having remembered to keep a pencil and a piece of paper near the TV to write down the name of the song (“The First Picture of You”, as it turned out) and the artist (the exotically named Lotus Eaters), I rushed out to our local record shop – One Up, which was then still on Union Street – to get hold of a copy. I ended up buying the picture disc version which I cherished and looked after, the disc itself being, in a sort of easily-impressed-13-year-old kind of way, a work of art. But whatever hopes I had of it somehow ending up being the next undiscovered A&M copy of “God Save The Queen” are long forgotten – I hear my lush picture disc might be worth as much as £8 now.
So this was pretty much their only hit, everything else that followed not even coming close to repeating the highs of “The First Picture Of You”. Their final single “Hurt” reached number 5 in the Italian charts, by which time the band had been dropped by their label before eventually splitting somewhere around 1985. Of course, they didn’t know any of this yet. Back then, Peter Coyle, Jem Kelly, Ged Quinn, John Hendry and Phil Lucking believed this song would lead them to bigger and better things, to fame and fortune beyond their wildest dreams. It didn’t, but I still have this single somewhere, in a drawer, in a box. I can’t play it anymore, the record player long having disappeared into the nearest charity shop. But now we have the internet I can play this song whenever I want. Time may dull the memory, but the song remains the same. A fabulous slice of summer pop so it is.
Billy Bragg – Greetings To The New Brunette
Round about the same time I was being introduced to The Wedding Present by John Peel. One evening he played a track called “They’ve Got A Bomb” by delightful anarcho-punk band “Crass”. He had a way of doing that you know, John Peel, taking you out of you comfort zone, hitting you with something completely unlistenable just when you were bopping along to the Undertones, or some Ukrainian folk music collective.
Now, I had been listening to a lot of punk at the time – the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Jam, The Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers etc and so on, but Crass, Jesus, they made Johnny Rotten look like Johnny Mathis. Crass were everything I thought punk stood for: politics, action, revolution and change in a way that the sort of stuff I had been listening to just didn’t. “London’s Burning” is all very well, but no one I was listening to sang about the things that Crass did on Do They Owe Us a Living: “At school they give you shit / drop you in the pit / You try, you try, you try to get out / but you can’t because they’ve fucked you about”. And even now, thirty years later, listening to “Asylum” still gives me the shivers.
Listening to Crass in the early 80’s in Britain made me stop and think about the world around me. I was only about fourteen at the time, but seeing the striking miners on the news every night as they struggled to keep their jobs and their communities together in the face of the brutal onslaught of the monetarist economic policies unleashed by Thatcher at the height of her powers, I knew that the world was not a fair place. Punk was supposed to be a catalyst of revolution, but somehow it had failed to materialise. In bands like Crass, and to some extent Angelic Upstarts, I realised that safety pins and fashionable boutiques along the Kings Road selling swastika t-shirts are not the answer. I mean, I still listened to Prefab Sprout, but at the same time I began to look more critically at was was going on.
Having asked my dad what segment of the political spectrum Thatcher represented, I vowed that whatever she believed in, I would believe the complete opposite. So, one evening in the Central Library in Aberdeen, I picked up a copy of the Communist Manifesto and slowly worked my way through that. It was hard going, but I understood the general thrust of what Marx was saying. A bit later on I picked up Animal Farm, 1984 and A Brave New World to reinforce my fundamental belief that the world was basically a dysfunctional place, led by a corrupt elite that had only their own selfish interests at heart and would stop at nothing to keep the status quo.
Throughout all this period, during which I must have been insufferable, I also picked up at the library a copy of “Workers Playtime” and “Talking with the Taxman About Poetry” by Billy Bragg. I’d never heard of him, but I was initially attracted by the Workers Playtime album cover, with its flag waving communists proudly on show. Figuring that this sort of artwork could only mean I’d found a political musical soul mate, I took the records home and played them pretty much non-stop.
I loved Workers Playtime, there’s a lot of great tracks on there, but it was “Talking..” that really enthused me with it’s mix of politics (“Ideology”, “There Is Power In A Union”) and everyday life (“The Home Front” , “The Warmest Room”). Those last two tracks in particular still invoke a particular sentiment nearly 30 years later, a nostalgia for an era I never knew, an era that comedian Stewart Lee would call “the post-war socialist utopia, contract with the people, Call The Midwife etc”.
But the song that stands out for me is the opening track – “Greetings To The New Brunette”. On an album that’s got some heavy moments on it, lyrically, “Greetings To The New Brunette” is like a breath of fresh air. Think of it as a Ringo Starr number, like “Octopuses Garden” just turning up in the middle of Abbey Road, and you’re like “what the hell… “. That kind of thing.
So “Greetings” (only real fans get to call it that) is really about politics and sex. The former was a big issue for me back in 1986, when “Brunette” (ok, just joking now) was released; the latter less so, but not for the lack of hoping. Put it this way, it was easier to get my hands on a copy of the collected works of Chairman Mao than it was getting my hands on Yvonne Mintie from the 5th form who lived on the end of our street and for whom I had “a thing”, as was the parlance of the day.
Interesting trivia – being a political song, I always thought the Shirley referred to was Shirley Williams, the former Labour and Lib Dem grandee. Tehee. So this song is important because it happened to me at that point in time when my burgeoning social conscience met plain old crude puberty. A tense meeting of minds, as seen in a mixtape I made at the time, where “Suspect Device” is followed by Dire Straits’ Romeo and Juliet. A lovely song then, both lyrically and musically that evokes so much. Another track to pull me through the lonely evenings on the island.
Portishead– Wandering Star
Life on a desert island is not always going to be fun. There’s going to be times, probably at night when the animals come out and a murky gloom falls over the lagoon. And if we’re talking gloom you can only go one of two ways: either Jesus and Mary Chain gloom (think “Deep One Perfect Morning”), or film noir gloom. And that’s where this track comes in. Actually, that’s where the whole first Portishead album, Dummy, ought to come in.
It’s a masterpiece of the trip-hop genre, the sort of atmospheric yet slightly edgy music that, when you close your eyes and just immerse yourself in it, you can just see a whole scene in front of you. Black and white, late at night, in the rain. Cobbled streets, a club somewhere, dark and gloomy, avant-garde patrons, an expectation of something strange and dangerous and otherworldly going on.
This track is as near to that sort of perfection as you can get. From the steady du-du-du-du bass line, the harmonica sample, the jazzy solo – wonderful. Yeah, “Glory Box” is a better song, but “Wandering Star” just sounds different to me every time I hear it. And every time I see with my eyes shut, it plays a different scene in my mind. It’s a track that keeps on giving, making it an essential track on the island – it’s a track that I could never get bored listening to.
Slowdive – Celia’s Dream
This track, from 1991’s “Just For A Day”, is one of those constants on whatever music storage device I’ve owned over the years. To think that most of this is done using feedback and a wall of effects pedals (and this is where the term shoegaze comes from, from musicians on stage looking down at their pedal banks) is just astonishing. I mean, I’ve owned a few guitars and effects over the years but never quite managed to make feedback sound this good.
Slowdive (the name alone is brilliant) were one of those shoegazing acts (see also Chapterhouse, Ride and Lush) that broke through around this time. There’s something very immersive about Slowdive. My favourite way to listen to a Slowdive album is in the dark, on the floor, with a decent set of headphones and, above all: volume! My idea of shoegazing heaven would be listening to the first two Slowdive albums whilst floating in one of those isolation tanks. Again, not sure where I first heard this but it’s been a perennial favourite ever since, along with “Alison” from the Souvlaki album.
Ned’s Atomic Dustbin– Happy
Having spent most of my teenage years young (by default), free (inasmuch as you can be free whilst living at home) and single (through general outward appearance), by 1991 I had somehow managed to get myself a girlfriend. We were both in college at the time. I was studying computing science (not very well, see track 6) and we’d spend literally hours sitting next to each other, sending email back and forth on the college’s Univac computer with it’s brown and yellow screens and the interminable keyboard shortcuts. We had arranged a date, all without direct verbal contact, all done through email much like the way it’s done nowadays.
So on the afternoon of the date I went out and bought, apropos of nothing, two things from the HMV in town: Ry Cooder’s first album (I wanted to get a copy of “Police Dog Blues”, a track I had heard on Paul Jones’ Rythm and Blues Show on BBC Radio 2 the week before) and the single “Happy”, by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. I was into The Wonder Stuff and The Levellers at that time, so from there to the Neds was not a huge leap into the dark.
I think I might have seen them on Top Of The Pops or something, the whole two-bass thing being quite a novelty. In fact, that’s what makes the song for me, that bass line on the intro. Again, not one of those lyrically deep songs that says something to you about your life, but it’s the sound, it’s the bass, it’s the guitars that plant this song firmly into the “I remember where I was when” category. In this case, I remember where I was when I first heard Happy: on my way to a disastrous first date that ultimately led, three years later, to a failed relationship and a rather hefty financial settlement. Still, those basses, eh?
The House of Love– Hope
Another survivor from the drives around the town, “Hope” comes from the House of Love’s eponymous debut album. Like much of the Wedding Present’s early work, the lyrics only became clear once the internet had been invented and someone bothered to put the words to the songs up. “It’s a lie on a seat of a night / When you’re bawling like a baby”, which I heard as “It’s a life on a seat of a knife / when you’re bold and lack a baby”. The fact that these words made absolutely no sense bothered me not a jot as I drove my little Vauxhall Nova (with the alloy wheels and sporty steering wheel) around the streets of Aberdeen at night, terrorizing pedestrians with 80’s alternative pop, mouthing misheard lyrics in their general direction.
I first heard The House of Love somewhere around the early 90’s. I had just started a course at Uni (see also track 5) and rather than listen to my maths lecture (a deeply tedious subject given by a deeply tedious man whose name I cannot recall but whom we all called Doris) I would sit at the back of the lecture theatre and listen to “Destroy The Heart” and “Christine” and “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” until the batteries on my Walkman gave out. Which, for anyone who remembers Walkmans, happened fairly quickly.
But this song always sticks out for me, partly because I used to listen to it all the time (probably because I was constantly rewinding the tape to make sure Guy Chadwick really didn’t sing “when you’re bowling like a lady”) and partly because it’s one of the songs I’ll always associate with living in Aberdeen.
The House of Love, like most of the tracks in this list have not only a spiritual home, they also have a geographical home, mostly around the north east of Scotland. As far as I know The House of Love are still going, but it’d take a lot to better this album and this song. So, this one makes it onto the island to remind myself of home.
The Wedding Present– Never Said
Like most of the songs I’m taking to my desert island, I was introduced to the Wedding Present by John Peel. It was probably around 1989, and I was out on one of my drives around the town. I liked to borrow my dad’s car and go driving around Aberdeen, the music providing a backdrop to the world rushing by outside the windows.
It was at the traffic lights somewhere along Union Street while waiting for the cassette deck to wind back “Give ‘Em Enough Rope” by the Clash that I first heard that “da da da dadadadadada da da da dadadadadadada” intro to “Kennedy” from 1989’s Bizarro. I remember being struck first and foremost by the guitar sound, an unrelenting wrist-damaging assault by pick on string, and by the lyrics, and by the extended outro (some 2 minutes long). Having heard that, after the roaring silence that followed the end of that song my life was never the same again.
As a 19-year old for whom the ladies were not exactly lining up around the block, or indeed any form of architectural construct, David Gedge spoke to me directly. It was like listening to The Smiths at 78 rpm, at once mixing my drab existence with unattainable hopes of (ultimately failed) romantic encounters. If Alan Bennett had played bass and not written for a living, this is the band he’d have been in.
Having been initiated into the world of the Weddoes, I sought out their albums. In 1989 having only released Tommy and George Best that wasn’t that difficult, my local Our Price Music obliging. I finally got to see them in the Music Hall in Aberdeen somewhere around 1991. And jings, they were LOUD. Having somehow ended up near a speaker, I spent most of the next two hours being aurally punched in the stomach whilst simultaneously having my eardrums punctured.
There are three versions of the Wedding Present. There’s the Tommy/George Best jangly guitar, student bedsit Wedding Present. Then there’s the mid-career, edgier Bizarro/Seamonsters/Hit Parade Wedding Present, and then there’s everything else that followed. In that last incarnation I’m not that interested (though ‘The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend” is a stand-out track).
And so the song I would pick, the one that just encapsulates everything the Wedding Present are about – and there’s a lot to choose from – it would be “Never Said”, from Tommy. “I’ve walked behind you for more than an hour / I don’t even think I know this part of town / I think I’m trying to find a way to talk to you again / I think I’m trying to find a way to bring you back again / Oh won’t you please come back again”.
You can keep your Ed Sheeran, that’s real teenage angst right there kids.
Oasis– Cast No Shadow
Ah. Britpop. Whenever I think of Britpop I always think of the bloke who lived in the flat above me. Stan, his name was, and he’d play Robbie Williams every night before he’d go up the town. I reckon he only had the single “Angels” as it was all he ever played. After a night out you’d hear him struggling up the stairs at 2am, more often than not with some bird he’d picked up on his trawl, followed by a lot of crashing and banging. Then silence (“wait wait wait, you’ve got to hear thish song from Robbie Williamsh, itsh <belch> fabuloush.”), then “Angels”, the loud singalong version, and then after two repeat plays there’d be more banging, if you get my drift.
None of which has anything to do with my final choice of track on my indie desert island other than that it came from the same period.
So, I was an Oasis fan. Well, to my friends and acquaintances at least that is, because I was in fact, during that whole period, a sheltered, closeted Blur fan. To me and most of the popular press at the time, Blur where the Beatles, purveyors of carefully crafted, lyrically clever music, while Oasis where the Stones. Grunts, balls to the wall, in yer face RAWK. Blur had cheeky chappy music, they had Phil Daniels, they had music with wit and humour. Oasis just had volume, an overdrive pedal and somone named Bonehead. Oasis was real man’s music, Blur whimsical art-college faffery. But to this day I still prefer the Beatles, even though I’ll admit to anyone who asks that the Stones wrote the better music.
Still, it’s Oasis that seem to have stood the test of time. Every weekend, “Wonderwall” is played at some wedding somewhere around the country. After a Christmas single (apparently Paul McCartney still rakes in more than £500k per year from “Wonderful Christmas Time”), this is the next best thing, having your songs sung in chorus in a Best Western hotel next to a motorway by groups of drunken middle-aged men standing in a circle with their ties tied around their heads, air-guitaring away and getting the lyrics wrong. (I suspect this is very much the way that my neighbour Stan spent his early Sunday mornings back in the day.)
So, where was I? Oh yes. Oasis. Desert Island. So in the early 90’s I was working for a large computer company that no longer exists, having been bought over by a company that makes printers as well as, it turns out, a malt vinegar-based sauce, blended with tomato, dates, tamarind extract, sweetener and spices. They’d send us down for a week to Farnborough where we had a training center. Essentially, this training turned into a week-long binge-drinking session on account of our ridiculous per-diem rates which allowed us, if we pooled our resources together, to clean out the hotel mini-bar every evening for a week and still come out the other end with money to spend. So we’d get drunk, then decamp to someone’s room where we’d all sing along to “Angels” at top volume.
After one particularly gruelling trip in which I had learned nothing except the price of a pint of Bailey’s (£27 back in the day, or £45 in today’s money) I remember hearing “Cast No Shadow” on the radio, and I remember thinking that this was not the way I imagined my life to go, in a shitty hotel, eating shitty food with a stinking hangover in a dining room full of photocopier salesmen from Guildford while the airshow was going on (“shut the fucking windows!!!!”).
Somehow the words “Chained to all the places that he never wished to stay / Bound with all the weight of all the words he tried to say/ As he faced the sun he cast no shadow” resonated with me, and I resolved there and then to change my life, just as soon as I got back to Aberdeen.
So whenever I hear this song, it reminds me of a time in my life when change was needed. It’s a song that fills me with hope, even though the lyrics are not that positive. I guess the message is not to turn into the man in the song – casting no shadow, being invisible, a nobody. It’s what I strive for everyday I think, though not always with success.
Must Have Track
There’s so many tracks that I considered that would make any list, but I can only choose eight. Gone are The Smiths, The Sundays, The Stone Roses, Nirvana, Tad, Dodgy, Sleeper, Blur, Belle and Sebastian, Turin Brakes, the Delgados. I could just have asked for the entire soundtrack to Monkey Dust series one, two and three. I’d have had Goldfrapp with me on the island in that case, or Eels. But alas.
No, the track the rescue party would have to pry from my cold, dead, sunbleached hands would be: “Greetings To The New Brunette”. Lovely song, lovely lyrics, lovely times.
I’m not really sure what an Indie book would be. Apart from “A Beat Concerto” (Paolo Hewitt’s autobiography of The Jam) I don’t own any music books. Music is for listening to, not for reading about. So I’d probably bring something by Irvine Welsh, perhaps the Trainspotting, Filth, Glue and Skagboys anthology, if such a thing exists. Welsh often references music in his books, so I get by here on a technicality.
A luxury item
Tricky this. I’d like to bring a guitar so that I can do my perfect cover of “There She Goes” at passing ships as they sail off into the distance, but being an Indie island I’d have to bring my best baggy cardigan. It’ll keep me warm when I’ve burned my way through the Bible and the collected works of Shakespeare.
In short: Bloke. Life. Mortgage. Music. Football. Scotland. Holland. The odd photograph. You’re going to need a tray.
Okay, a bit longer then: I’m Seb Gevers, a mid-forties father of four and husband of one. I play a bit of guitar and sometimes also a bit of drums. Neither with any great proficiency, but then that didn’t stop most of the bands that I listened to in my teens, bands which I realise now would be called ‘indie’. I live in Netherlandshire, a small country just to the left of Germany. In a country not exactly known for its indie credentials (Betty Serveert aside), I dream of the good old days when John Peel was on the radio, The Word was considered ‘edgy’ and Chris Evans would have Sleeper on his show.
Back in the day I used to do a lot of writing about Scottish football (hey, someone had to) and sometimes also about music, both topics I’d very much like to get back into writing about. So if anyone wants to talk about that space where Scottish football, midlife crises and indie music overlap, I can be found on Twitter (@zerozero31) and occasionally on Tumblr (zerozero31.tumblr.com). Also, less interestingly, on Instagram. I’ll leave you to figure out the username.”
Thank you to Seb for that fantastic and enjoyable insight and for taking the time to contribute to EIO40. If you would like to contribute to our Indie Encounters feature and share your indie moments please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Twitter
In this regular feature we ask the Everything Indie Over 40 social media community to help us compile a top ten list of a chosen topic. Our resident curator John Hartley (@JohnyNocash) then ponders, disects and finally presents.
In this edition:-
The Indie Top Ten Songs For The Festive Season
The lot of a music journalist is not an easy one (as most will all too willingly tell you in their memoirs), so imagine how bad it is for me pretending to be one. Everything that should be so easy becomes all so complicated. Our esteemed Editor issues a simple instruction from EIO40HQ: ‘furnish us with your top festive songs’, or words to that effect. And yet not a single one of the readership is able to come up with a song suitable for the annual celebration of the Winter Solstice that is the twelve day festival of Yule. Not a single one. So, I’m afraid ‘yule’ just have to make do with a whole load of Christmas songs instead.
1. The Fall -“Xmas With Simon”
In the real world, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without millions of folk across the United Kingdom digging deep into their pockets and helping the poor and needy. By purchasing the X Factor’s winning song in their droves, poor Simon Cowell is able to feast on the milk of human kindness. It might be the only decent meal he gets, you know. Mark E Smith has quite possibly spent more than one festive season at the Cowell household; why else would The Fall be driven to write ‘Xmas With Simon’, as nominated by @daznixon1989 and @knoxy15?
2. Tom Waits – A Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis
I can almost picture the scene: Smith and Cowell sat at the table, Louis Walsh – his nose pressed firmly against the artificially frosted window – gazing longingly at the turkey rump and trimmings. Mistletoe dangles from the candelabra, tinsel decorates that signed photo of Sinitta from 1988 and… wait: what is that tucked away on the mantelpiece? Oh, it’s ‘A Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis’ sent via Tom Waits. Well spotted @caroline_binnie.
3. The Ramones – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)
Is Tom Waits indie? Does it matter? It is Christmas after all; the season of cheer and goodwill to all men and women. That means no arguments. Not even when Simon Cowell turns down the chance to sign up The Fall to his money-making empire. Just when it looks like old Smithy (or should that be Smith E? I don’t know the exact protocol here) is about to slay his host with a plethora of flat vowels, a sudden realisation hits. His mood changes: ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)’, he says. Cowell raises his eyebrow. ‘Sounds like a Ramones song to me’, he says. ‘I’ll stick that in the next series’ Punk Week and thereby guarantee viewing from at least @todclaret and @Miss_D_xx.’
4. The Polyphonic Spree – “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
But hang on a minute… punk? Is that indie too? Of course it is; as anyone who watched the excellent BBC4 documentary (and that’s why we pay the licence fee folks, remember!) on the story of indie, we wouldn’t have what we commonly term ‘indie’ without the staunch independence of the punk movement. It’s just horses for courses, genres for whatever-rhymes-with-genres. We want a Christmas without any of the usual round-the-table family bickering this year. Let’s get on with unwrapping the presents. Here’s a gift from @GLPNE73: it’s ‘The Christmas Song’ by The Polyphonic Spree.
5. The Wedding Present – “No Christmas”
Just as Mark and Simon look as though they are about to start squabbling over who gets the first listen to the song, fate intervenes and Cowell notices a small, thin square-shaped gift leaning humbly against the base of the Christmas Tree. Being from @BullAntics and @thirtysixholes it is clearly musical, and so the host offers an olive branch to his guest. ‘Go on,’ he says, ‘open it.’ Of course, Smith’s face is a picture when he realises its ‘No Christmas’ with a gruff voice singing songs of heartbreak. And we don’t mean Chris Rea…
6. The Bitter Springs – “A Christmas No 1”
‘This is great’, says old Mark E-boy. ‘It reminds me of when music used to be good, instead of all that commercial Christmas guff-uh’. Simon Cowell looks sheepishly at his paunch, now fairly bursting through his white satin roll neck top. Smith is getting well into this song. ‘I’m getting well into this-uh’ he tells Cowell. ‘If I had my way, this would be a Christmas number one’. Cowell responds; ‘Unfortunately for you, it would appear that only I get my way at Christmas. Unless some fiend organises a Rage Against The Machine campaign. And anyway,’ he says pointing at the YouTube video he has now found on his smartphone, ‘This is ‘A Christmas No. 1’. It’s by Bitter Springs, and was nominated by @Clive_Stringer.’
7. The Cannanes – “Christmas Tree”
The festivities pause for a few minutes whilst Simon Cowell watches the Queen’s Speech and Mark E Smith fires another member of his band. However all is not lost; in the nick of time Smith spots the perfect replacement almost straight away. Standing tall at six feet, barely moving and certainly not answering back, Mark offers the post of bass guitarist without hesitation. Unfortunately, the candidate doesn’t leap at the opportunity. In fact the candidate doesn’t do anything. ‘Mark,’ offers Simon after an uncomfortably long silence, ‘That’s the ‘Christmas Tree’ I was given by The Cannanes’. Oh dear. I don’t know what Ma Smith would make of this scenario, let alone @MaScrievin.
8. The Research – “For Christmas I Got Pityriasis Rosea”
‘Bloody hell you’re right!’ exclaims E Smith without pausing for punctuation. ‘It must be great being so popular. Have you been given anything else?’ Cowell scans the vast living room for gifts he has decided not to save for a rainy day. Should he mention the Girls Aloud reunion tour programme Cheryl has given him? Would Mark be jealous? It is signed, after all. ‘No, not really’ says our Simon humbly. ‘Just a platinum disc from the BPI for Ben Haenow’s single last year’. ‘Oh FFS (that’s text speak, Simon)’ says The Fall frontman. ‘According to The Research, ‘For Christmas I Got Pityriasis Rosea’ from @tfdefence, and that’s it.’
9. Fountains Of Wayne – “I Want An Alien For Christmas”
Surprisingly, Mr. Cowell has sympathy for his guest. It would appear that even the rich and famous don’t always get what they want for Christmas. ‘It’s true,’ says Simon, wiping a tear from his eye. ‘In fact, 2014 was the first time in eight years that one of my acts won the X Factor. And that was Leona Lewis’. Whisky in hand, Mark drapes a consoling arm over the multimillionaire’s shoulder. ‘It’s ok. I don’t think Father Christmas even reads my letters. ‘I Want An Alien For Christmas’, but the closest I ever get is a song by Fountains of Wayne thanks to @KevSkibbers.’
10. Low – “Just Like Christmas”
Our two stalwarts of the music industry slump onto the sofa (by the way, that’s the plush red leather one opposite the real wood-burning fireplace, not the Winchester at right angles to it. Or the velvet-covered four-seater in front of the aquarium.) ‘Just look at us,’ sighs Mr. Cowell. ‘I’d rather not’, slurs Mr. Smith. ‘Can we just watch some telly? Are Little and Large on?’ ‘No,’ says our Simon, ‘but Top Of The Pops is.’ Our Mark exhales contentedly. ‘Oh good,’ he says. ‘Do you know, Simon; life isn’t too bad after all. If only @durutti74 and @Chops_Top_Fiveswere here, then it’d be ‘Just Like Christmas’.
We were delighted when @Shinpad11 contacted us offering to contribute to the website. Obviously that’s not his real name and neither is his Twitter moniker Shinny. His mum probably calls him Anthony and we suspect his teachers called him “McDonagh!” when summoning him to the front of the class at school
We loved Shinny’s idea of a Desert Island Discs for the website. It fitted in nicely with the Meet The Community feature and offered a chance to get to know a community member from an alternative angle.
Our only concern was that a cease & desist letter from the Beeb’s lawyers claiming some sort of breach of copyright over the usage of the format and name would land on the EIO40 dormat. We therefore decided to put our own variation on the name in an attempt to put the legal eagles off the scent. We also liked the reference to the epic album closer on Shed Seven’s Change Giver. Let’s hope Rick Twitter doesn’t share the same lawyers.
We’ve never actually listened to Desert Island Discs so had to leg it over to Wiki to get a handle of the format. If you are like us and not familiar with it’s workings then simply guests are invited to imagine they ended up on a desert island somehow and can choose 8 tunes, 1 book and a luxury item to take with with them (which suggests they went to the island by choice if they are packing stuff in advance).
So let’s cast ourselves away with Shinny to his own little indie desert island and get to know him a bit better. What you will learn is that Shinny loves his music and knows how to express his love of music in what is a rather poignant and emotional piece at times. But, as Shinny was keen to tell us, “that’s the whole point of DiD.”
I quite like Radio 4, particularly Desert Island Discs. Given that I’m now over 40 it’s ok to say this kind of thing out loud. Recently I was digging out some old stuff to put a “mix tape” together. I still don’t like the term MP3 Playlist. That’s when I had my brainwave – why not do an Indie themed Desert Island Discs
So that’s what I started to do. I soon discovered putting this together was much more difficult than I’d ever expected it to be. What I have noticed is that my choices are very representative of me and where I’m from. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise but it was still a bit of a jolt! My selections focus on the 90s – perhaps that’s when my life was at its simplest and most enjoyable?
Anyway here goes, it’s served its purpose for me:
Born to Graham & Nora in Wigan in the winter of ’74 is as dull and ordinary as it gets. In fact I’m amazed Alan Bennett hasn’t been in touch. My parents never got to share vows or rings and so the life of a bastard awaited me, it’s a role that I’ve relished in for 40 years!!!
Like most homes, the radio and record player were a big part of family life, be it the Irish Country music of my grandparents, my mums Rod Stewart LPs or her brothers and their night radio.
My 1st ever single was Flash by Queen, I was only 5 but I loved it and it could have been worse, I remember buying the Frog Chorus. As a 5 year old, it had everything – space rockets, good guys v bad guys and was, well, quite frankly a rocking tune. However, it’s not very Indie so it doesn’t make the cut.
Oasis –Slide Away
To be fair I could have picked any off this album, I was going to go with the 1st single ‘Supersonic’ but what about the others??? I’ve opted for the epic ‘Slide Away’, as it also popped up as a B-side on ‘Whatever’
I was in my late teens, had a weekend job and felt like the North West was the centre of the universe. Both Manchester and Liverpool are about 30 to 40 minutes away by train, there was no better place to be!
’94 saw the release of some albums that have gone on to be loyal friends of mine, and I could have done this list from tracks off any of these albums; Weezer- Blue Album, REM – Monster, Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, Blur – Parklife, Beastie Boys – Ill Communication, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Let Love In, Nirvana – MTV Unplugged in New York, Morrissey – Vauxhall & I, Pulp – His ‘n’ Hers and Portishead – Dummy
Those early Oasis singles started to arrive as I sat my A-levels and by the time I’d moved to York to start Uni, everyone had the album. You could walk along halls of residence (faster than a cannonball) and you’d hear the album creeping out from every door you passed.
Definitely Maybe still sits in slot 6 of the CD Multiplayer in my car, it’s been in there since the day I bought the car some 10 years ago and it gets played at least once a week.
An Emotional Fish – Celebrate
I first heard/saw this when they played on the James Whale late night TV show on ITV. The opening bass line is an absolute killer. Being 15 in the summer of 1990 I knew I was on to a winner as a) they had a band name that would command a response of “Who”? and b) well quite simply it was a fantastic tune. The album has a few other decent tracks, particularly Colours, Julian and Lace Virginia. They went on to support U2 but by then I’d moved on.
Dinosaur Jr – Freak Scene
This only works when played at full volume! The only drawback was that it didn’t appear on Where You Been – as that is *THE* album for me. This track is full of teen angst and frustration. As good as Sonics Youth’s Teenage Riot and Territorial Pissings by Nirvana.
For me, J Mascis is the greatest rock guitarist I’ve ever seen and certainly the loudest. He may carry the look of a hobo and have zero stage presence but f**k me, he can’t half play guitar (I’ve seen him play drums too). If Dinosaur Jr are new to you, try the album Where You Been, it’s an absolute masterpiece.
Morrissey – Suedehead
Yet another indie staple – I quite simply can’t help but sing along. I’ve probably killed this song for most people whose company I share. I will never tire of the sadness and bittersweet happiness that this tune delivers. Shoulders back, flailing arms and an open shirt, if this doesn’t move you, you’re probably already dead.
The Wedding Present – Granadaland
My number one band. David Lewis Gedge is up there with Mark E Smith, Mozza, Ryder, Cooper-Clark & NG when it comes to summing up the lives and times of being a Northerner. What I love about this track is the rousing boo from the Leeds crowd on the “*punk” video, DLG smirking as the Yorkshire faithful take the bait.
The song is a marriage of frantic break neck speed guitars and tales of falling in and/or out of love wrapped in dark Northern humour. TWP are masters of good, bad, ugly and painful memories. I’ve been listening to them since my mid-teens, when a mate’s older brother did a copy of the George Best album for me on a tape, also adding a few Peel Sessions on the 2nd side. I played that cassette until the tape wore thin and translucent. I can still recall the cover he did and the football sticker of Careca the Brazilian striker on the outside of the case.
Track 6 Orange Juice – Rip It Up
It’s an oldish tune and one that I wouldn’t have ever encountered when first released (given that I was only 8 years old at the time). It’s a wonderful number. It’s poppy, its easy on the ear and its radio friendly – I’m beginning to wonder how it’s made it this far.
Sometimes a song doesn’t need a reason, this is that song…
Sugar – If I Can’t Change Your Mind
Some songs do need a reason. This one is painful for me, sums up my recent domestic episodes. Bob sings about a fella that isn’t sure why he’s just lost everything that was central to him:
“How can I explain away
Something that I haven’t done?
And if you can’t trust me now
You’ll never trust in anyone”
Basically, if felt like Bob was singing about me…
I didn’t think I’d ever be able to play this track again and that would have been a real pity. The fact I can, tells me I’ve turned a corner…
Billy Bragg – The Milkman of Human Kindness
Be nice to one another. This shouldn’t be a revolutionary concept should it? So why are so many incapable of it? When it comes to love songs, this and Pulp’s ‘Something Changed’ are as close to perfection as you’ll get. Billy keeps it simple. From his playing style to his singing, there’s no need to over complicate matters. When we do that, we lose focus.
“I love you, I am the milkman
Of human kindness
I’ll leave an extra pint”
It doesn’t get better than that, be nice to each people.
This is a fantastic choir version cover
Book John Sellers “Perfect From Now On / How Indie Rock Saved My Life”
The Amazon review is better than mine…
“Despite vowing never to get caught up in music due to his father’s overbearing Dylan-obsession (which haunts him to this day) the young John Sellers found himself powerless to resist the lure of indie rock. When his favourite band went their separate ways in 2004, Sellers examined his own listening rituals and began to analysis how his love of music had a massive hold over his life and what that meant. His obsession, above and beyond mere music fandom, has taken him on some adventures; to ground-breaking shows with his favourite bands; getting drunk with his heroes and even a pilgrimage to lan Curtis’ grave. Seller’s examination of his own obsession of his favourite bands such as the Smiths, Joy Division, Duran Duran (and later Nirvana & Pavement) exemplifies, why music, and in particular certain bands, mean so much to those whose worship them. Sellers has written a fan’s perspective in a tremendously humourous and passionately detailed memoir – one that any fan of music, not just indie rock, will relate to”
So I can listen to Test Match Spe
Must have Track?
Hardest choice of all, it has to be The Wedding Present, my favourite track changes from day to day but for today Granadaland…
Thanks for sharing my musical trip down memory lane.
Thank you to Shinny for sharing that and for taking the time to contribute. If you would like to contribute to our Indie Encounters feature and share your indie moments please email us at email@example.com or DM us on Twitter
In this regular feature we ask the Everything Indie Over 40 social media community to help us compile a top ten list of a chosen topic. Our resident curator John Hartley(@JohnyNocash) then ponders, disects and finally presents.
In this edition:-
The Indie Top Ten Single Girls Name In A Song Title
This should be easy, I thought: there will be two options open to me. At first I thought I could wax lyrical about the songs the EIO40 community nominate that can be found in my own collection of records, tapes and CDs. You know, like the classic Babybird lo-fi track ‘Valerie’, with its unforgettable lyric “Oh Valerie, you’re like a gallery, my little cart of modern art”. Or ‘Anabelle’, off the fourth album by Wolverhampton’s finest The Mighty Lemon Drops; wait, what do you mean you didn’t know they’d had a fourth album? Anyway, it turns out there are loads of songs with girls names in their title, and many of them were new to me.
But not to worry, I consoled myself: I’ll just pick out the songs with names that also appear in my little black book and tell hilarious and slightly lugubrious tales of old flames. I counted the number of different songs nominated – only seventy eight. And then I remembered I have never required the use of a little black book. At which point the EIO40 legal team put away their libel case law folders and breathed a sigh of relief.
1. The House Of Love – “Christine”
One of the advantages of such a wide field is that the opportunity is provided for some lesser-mentioned bands to take their turn in the spotlight, so all is not lost. However, it seems only fair that the most-nominated track gets a mention. The House of Love had a couple of songs put forward, with ‘Christine’, the blistering opener from their debut album, being suggested by @RiverboatCapt, @Rich_W27, @mkip_68, @muzzyjez and @caroline_binnie.
It is also a song that appears in my collection too, so hoorah for that eh! It was apparently the very first song Guy Chadwick wrote for The House of Love, and very good it is too.
2. Pond – “Agatha”
‘Christine’ is also one letter longer than the surname of arguably one of the world’s greatest ever crime novellists, Agatha Christie. My English teachers always used to tell me that if I said ‘arguably’ I should then proceed to argue the case. None of them are reading this, though, so I’m not going to. ‘Agatha’ is also the title of a track by US grungesters Pond. If my English teachers were reading this they would have kittens over my use of the term ‘grungesters’ too; I grew up reading the NME though so what can they expect? The track can be found on side one of Pond’s self-titled debut album, as @womlaw will testify.
3. Allo Darlin’ – “Angela”
Two names in, both songs that can be found on the respective bands’ eponymous debut album. If I’d thought this through carefully I could have had a theme developing here. Never mind. Agatha Christie’s theme generally was crime, particularly murder. One of her novels was entitled ‘The Third Girl’ and thereby provides a fortunate link to the third track in this girls’ name top 10. One of Christie’s most famous creations was the old woman with a knack for spotting whodunit a mile off, Miss Marple.
Miss Marple has appeared on screen many times, portrayed by various different actresses, the most celebrated of which I reckon to be Joan Hickson. Unfortunately, no-one nominated a song called Joan, but @BillyChiefsuggested ‘Angela’ by Allo Darlin’ and seeing as Angela Lansbury also played Miss Marple I’m off the hook.
4. A Certain Ratio – “Lucinda”
Miss Marple isn’t the only famous fictional female detective, either. There’s loads of them, and fortunately for @JohnnyDee_UKone of them is called Lucinda. Lucinda Pierce, to be precise, and she appears in a series of novels by Diane Fanning. Before she’s even got started on detection our Lucinda has lost an eye in the course of duty, and as you can imagine things don’t get much rosier for her thereafter. ‘Lucinda’ is also the title of the track Johnny suggested, as performed by A Certain Ratio.
5. The Fall – “Hilary”
A Certain Ratio hailed from Manchester, the same city as that loveable old charmer Mark E Smith. Mark E Smith has presided over 16, 327 different line-ups of The Fall, a band who have a discography containing even more spelling mistakes than the average Nocash English Literature essay (although to be fair the song titles do make a little more sense than the essays ever did). One of their tracks is entitled ‘Rose’, but that was disqualified because it is probably pronounced ‘Rose-ah’. So bad luck @pillshark73, but the points here go to @richardcuddy and @0151Omski who both suggested ‘Hilary’ instead.
6. The Orchids – “Carrole-Anne”
Hilary is the name of an actress; Hilary Duff, to be precise. She nearly shares the same surname as the poet Carol Ann Duffy, who is a Professor at Manchester’s Metropolitan University and is the current Poet Laureat. In turn, she nearly shares the same forename as ‘Carrole-Anne’, the song written by The Orchids and nominated by @bodlingboy.
The Orchids hailed from Glasgow and spent their formative years releasing records on Sarah Records; ‘Carrole-Anne’ can be found on their debut album ‘Lyceum’.
7. St Christopher – “Antionette”
Sarah Records was also the home – along with many other labels – of St. Christopher. The York-based band are built around Glenn Melia, the only constant member throughout a twenty-five year recording existence. One of these such recordings was the 1990 Sarah Records single ‘Antoinette’, as identified by @fi-fry. According to Wikipedia the song is “a sophisticated keyboard-driven song drenched in reverb”.
8. The Bodines – “Therese”
St. Christopher is the patron saint of travellers, athletes, archers and bachelors amongst other things; toothache also. St. Therese meanwhile is the patron saint of aviators, florists and illnesses. ‘Therese’ is the title of a song by Glossop’s The Bodines. Their second single, ‘Therese’ reached the heady heights of number four in the UK indie chart in 1986, and appeared on the NME’s ‘C86’ compilation cassette. It also found a home amongst the numerous nominated songs with girls’ names in their titles thanks to @myrtleleaf.
9. Clinic – Linda
Although St. Therese might well be the patron saint of illnesses, she is arguably not the best source of hope and help for those suffering from illness. Again, I’m not going to argue the case. I studied government, not theology. No, if I were suffering from an illness I’d be more inclined to visit a medical establishment, like a surgery or even – hey! – a clinic. And luckily for the rather random thread of this entire Top 10, Clinic also happens to be the name of a band, a band who released a song with a girl’s name in the title to boot. So hats off to @DrJonesPNE for providing me with another tenuous link via their track ‘Linda’.
10. Silver Sun – “Julia”
You see, Linda happens to be the name of one of the teaching assistants in the class next door to mine in the school in which I road-test my poor attempts at humour before inflicting them on you. Everyone calls the teacher in that class Julie, although her name is actually Julia. Perhaps she was christened by Mark E Smith. ‘Julia’ also happens to be the title of the last entry in our Top Ten, thanks to @neilc79 who suggested the Silver Sun track.
And there you have it: the EIO40 Top Ten Songs With Girls Names In The Title, written with perhaps the most intricately fragile connections since the railways were privatised. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I’m going for a lie down now.