millionreasons: (marnie)
Over these circus Christmas lights

Sitting in a backwards facing seat on the train, I momentarily drop off and imagine the train is rumbling forward to Scotland; it is disconcerting to open my eyes and I'm hurtling backwards, disoriented. I'm on a nostalgia trip to Glasgow to see my schoolfriend Jin, and Deacon Blue, a band I loved 1987-1989, whom we both went to see the day before my 16th birthday at Sheffield City Hall, my first proper gig. We meet up by the Christmas tree in Glasgow Central and go to sip mulled wine in George Square's Christmas market, before going over to the Royal Concert Hall for the gig. Being 43 is different from being 16 and it's nice to have a seat in pleasant surroundings, not in a damp basement venue with one toilet. I think we are the youngest people, here (except for the 30-something ladies in their best slinky frocks, with as, Jin puts it, "I'd like to speak to the manager" iron-straight hair, doing the hen party dance: one hand in the air, eyes closed and frowning, a pseudo-sexy wiggle of the bottom), but old people have their advantages. There are snaps and vids, but people are not gassing on their phones or facebooking all the way through, indeed when DB do This Town To Be Blamed and someone chats, Ricky Ross calls them out and people applaud.

Lost in music, sweet (blue eyed) soul music

They come on to a cover of People Get Ready and and do a mini-version of Human League's Human, before going onto new songs and old-new songs, with little that I recognise until they get to Real Gone Kid and I'm woo-ooh-ooh-ooh-woo-hoohoo-ing along in joyful recognition. This is the song that made them mega. Although rather than this and other radio-friendly unit shifters, I preferred the more thoughtful, balladic, poetic, whisky-drenched melancholia of songs like When Will You Make My Telephone Ring or Loaded. I loved the first album about rain and the second album about light, and then I don't know what their following LPs' subjects were because I'd moved on. They do all the hits except Dignity, so when they leave and return for the encore, it's got to be Dignity but they surprise with the forgotten delight of Wages Day: the joyful celebration of Friday night on the town: "And his heart, it was reeling with the thrill of it all/All to do and only hours/He said: and this is all YOURS/And you can have it all!" and then, oh, the highlight, the gorgeous Born in A Storm which mingles into the fantastic, bombastic Raintown.

And then it's still not done, there's an ill-advised 60s megamix which folds into an exuberant Queen of the New Year, complete with glitter cannon, which threatens to go Full Partridge, but fortunately it goes off, to applause applause applause. And then they're STILL not finished, they come back for an acoustic version of a Bob Dylan song, Forever Young, which we're not, but it doesn't matter, sometimes it's fine to go backwards, even if it makes your heart lurch and your brain gets muddled. The band has done two and a half hours of singing, leaping, dancing, running through the first row of the audience, touching hands. Ricky Ross is 58, but looks better than other reformed popstars I've been to see recently. The soft-left politics are still there, he talks briefly about UKIP, Jo Cox, even the poll tax, and I remember how they championed forgotten soul singer James Carr by covering Dark End of the Street and even writers, referencing Carson McCullers in Undeveloped Heart. You you don't get that with Mumford or his sons.

Over the sea, over the land, and the city

We drive out to Loch Lomond, empty and autumnal with a Scottish wind whipping up off the lake and into our uncovered ears. A seaplane lifts up and crosses the water, landing on the other side. A few dog walkers, a country pub, and us; its a small oasis 45 minutes from the city. When I come to other cities I think about how i could fit in, live. But then it's dark by three and I change my mind.


millionreasons: (Default)
The Wedding Present - What have I said now

I prefer the Weddoes in their George Best era: when they got into bed with Steve Albini they took on too much drone and 12 minute guitar breaks. This song is OK; I do like Gedge's deadpan, awkward monotone* and his lyrics which remind me of R 'n' B/R Kelly style, just reportting what happened rather than trying to create poetry (although "What about all of your friends and all those letters they send? They can't all be that boring" comes near-ish).

* Yorkshire, represent
millionreasons: (men)
The Popguns - Landslide

The first female entry - or at least female fronted. Indie was hella male back then. It always surprised me that the boy-guitarist wrote the lyrics for Wendy to sing, they seem to have come from a female experience - the bitter-sweet sound of feminine angst - but maybe he took Wendy's life and wrote it into verses and choruses. Although I think in writing Send Me Shame, he was following me 'round and noting down my (late teen) life.

Such an under-rated band and this has fab melodies, harmonies, jangle and fizz and it isn't even my fave Popguns popsong (that would be the caustic Every Dream, the above-mentioned Send Me shame or the excitement/disappointment of Bye Bye Baby*) but I love everything they did.

* In the back of a taxi cab
I felt a nervous hand upon my thigh
as London whistled by
We were young, we were ill at ease
but everything came easily to me
I wish there could have been
a better ending

Another year another address
The same old feeling
and the same restless mess

millionreasons: (cake)
Morrissey - Interesting Drug
There are some bad people on the right

I'm surprised that this record wasn't higher up the chart; I don't recall the Mozzer backlash starting until the early 90s. It's not one of Morrissey's best, but it's a fine little ditty. I like the disco beat, the leftish libertarianish lyrics (although not a patch on the words to The Queen is Dead) and lovely backing vox by Ms K MacColl. I do love la Moz when he's meandering up and down the octave.

millionreasons: (Default)
Tom Verlaine by The Family Cat
something disappeared from view

This kind of song is the reason I wanted to write about the FF '89. If you think of the musical trends (in white alternative music at least) in the late 80s and early 90s you might think of baggy, shoegaze, nascent grunge and (bleurk) indie-dance. But most indie-kids were listening to this kind of fuzzed up post-punk stuff. I didn't know who Tom Verlaine was at the time, but there's nothing like naming a song after an icon to nail your colours to the mast.

Love the metallic dissonant opening and the melody-riff. I also like the way it doesn't really have a chorus, more of a bridge to nowhere that makes the song feel relentless and dream-loopy, although the middle eight/instrumental break is a bit wanky. I don't really know what the lyrics are about, presumably not literally about Tom Verlaine? From what I can hear, I think it's about being young.

millionreasons: (Default)
Another Inspiral Carpets song. This one is more psychedelic with some swirly guitars, fancy organ bits and a great beat. Again, I much prefer the verses before the radio-friendly choruses kick in. "I'm getting by the best I can while you're directing traffic" is an awful lyric and the "man!" at the end very ill-thought out.

millionreasons: (wine)
I guess if John Peel hadn't gone and died, he'd be garnering votes for the Festive Fifty at this time of the year. The first one I listened to was in 1988. I can remember getting drunk on gin at one of my parents' horrid Xmas drinks parties, puking, and going to lie down in the spare room and hearing number 6, You Made Me Realise by My Bloody Valentine, on the radio - one of those astonishing records that you never forget, even after three large gins.

The next year, I saved my liver and taped all of it. For no good reason, except for Xtreme nostalgia, I am going to 'review' all of the songs featured on it, in reverse order, and with a youtube link if possible. Here's the first one, She Comes In The Fall by the Inspiral Carpets.

I was never a big fan of the Inspiral Carpets, they were the least interesting of the Madchester bands (until the second and third wave at least). I found the singer's voice abrasive and think the Hammond organ, whilst effective, should be used sparingly. But this is OK, isn't it? I like the strumming at the beginning and the Wake up! Wake up! call to arms. I much prefer the verses - the melody sounds slightly uneasy and I like the ba-ba-da-da keyboard riffs after each line of lyric. But I don't really like the marching 2/4 beat, and the bridge and chorus seem like they're from an entirely different song - it sounds like they're were after a big anthemic sing-a-long indie disco bit. Come on, you can just imagine a load of pissed up Manc lads shouting: "You don't walk, you crawl" and pointing their lager bottles to the ceiling, can't you?

Edit: have had the song in my head ever since I listened to it, so it must work on some level.
millionreasons: (Default)
Before Ian Brown's face fell in, before John Squire formed The Shirehorses Seahorses, before Mani became bass player for hire in old man(cunian) 'super'groups, before the 90s. When every band had a freaky dancer and a pop-art rip-off album cover.

Bands should never become famous, that way they'd stay brilliant for ever.

millionreasons: (Default)
On 22nd December 1988, Morrissey played his first solo gig at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. I was in the fifth year (Year 10), I was 15, it was the school holidays. I was desperate to go but I didn't have a Smiths t-shirt, I didn't have any money and my parents would have never let me go all the way to Wolverhampton on my own. I did consider getting the bus to Doncaster and then the train to Sheffield to go to the indie record shop to buy a t-shirt (Track Records in Doncaster sold t-shirts but for bands like Loop and The Sisters of Mercy), then somehow get a train to Wolverhampton, all with no cash and no parental approval. Later, I found out that people had been queuing at the venue for days, so it's likely I wouldn't have got in anyway. So I lay on the living room floor with the curtains closed and my feet up on the gas fire, listening to The Queen Is Dead all afternoon, over and over again. It seemed a more Morrissey thing to do than to actually go to the gig.

Two and a half years later, Morrissey announced three dates in Scotland. I was determined to go. Hanging on the booking line for ages, I didn't manage to get tickets for Glasgow, but I did for Dundee. I had to borrow £30 from my friend Sarah for the train fare (I did have a Saturday job at one point, cleaning bakery equipment in the village bakers, but was sacked for not being very good at cleaning bakery equipment). I'm not sure how I paid for the tickets because I imagine you would have had to pay by credit card and I didn't have a credit card. My parents wouldn't have lent me theirs because they told me I couldn't go. We had many many many arguments over the (teenage) years about everything from wearing make-up, staying in the house on my own, what to wear to weddings, taking alcohol to parties, having boys over etc etc, They were probably quite right about most of the things (not the wedding-wear), but from my parents' intransigence, I'd learned some of my own. I announced that I was going and there was nothing they could do about it. This tactic had to be used very very sparingly. I only used it twice, the other when I wanted to go to a party in Manchester when my parents were away. I guess they must have given in, because on 15th May 1989, I set off with my friend and fellow Morrissey fan, Daniel, to Dundee.

I'd never been to Scotland before. We had to change at York and we saw hordes of other Moz fans. We travelled up the east coast of the country and despite being a self-obsessed, stubborn teenager, I was struck, probably for the first time, by the beauty of the British countryside. Alnmouth, Alnwick, the big hulk of a ruined hotel at Dunbar, Lindisfarne, Berwick, all gorgeous. It's still my favourite train journey - you can keep your Settle to Carlisles.

In Dundee, we picked flowers from the town displays (sorry, Dundee Borough Council) to throw at Morrissey and talked to other fans. I spoke to Elliot who appears in the Hulmerist video as the speechless, overwhelmed young fan, and who was selling his fanzine. Finally, it was time to go in. I'd only been to two gigs before - the village punk band The Adulescents (sic) who played at the youth club and Deacon Blue at Sheffield City Hall (my 16th birthday present). We rushed to the front of the venue and then had to stand packed in whilst the dull as ditch- and dishwater support act Phranc played. Poor Phranc; it's a mixed blessing supporting a big star. Nobody wanted to see her and unkind people threw things.

Being a pale, sensitive type, I was pretty surprised by the rowdiness of the crowd. They shouted "Morrissey Morrissey Morrissey" in a football chant kind of way and lurched from side to side: indie-moshing, if you will. I started to feel sick and claustrophobic and felt that I was going to faint so I had to move to the side. Eventually, la Moz took to the stage and I was a like a girl at a Beatles concert in 1963, I put my head in my hands and screamed, I was so excited. I really can't remember what he played apart from his forthcoming single Pregnant For The Last Time. My flowers had been crushed and I didn't manage to get anywhere near the stage for the traditional invasion.

When it was over, Daniel and I wandered Dundee with other bed-less fans. We found an unlocked coach in a bus garage and about 20 tired teenagers slept on the bus. We got up early the next day and took the long journey home, made longer by the train getting stuck and having to reverse some of the way. It was my 18th birthday.

A few months later, Morrissey played Doncaster Dome, but by then I'd become obsessed with Sarah records and it was all over between Moz and me.

millionreasons: (Default)

I wasn't a big fan of baggy/Madchester, at least not when it became a scene, although I was blown away by the first release of Wrote for Luck (not the remix) and I remember cheering when She Bangs The Drums entered the charts in summer 1989. But Northside, The Farm, Flowered Up, the Mock Turtles....urgh. The nadir of Candy Flip and that horrible cover of I'm Free (the Soup Dragons will always be Whole Wide World to me, not ragga-toasters). Listening to the songs now, I can see how radical it all was, the jangly guitars and hard beats, the harsh vocals over sunny dance numbers. Anorak boys with sequencers.

I love the way Perfume starts out soft and sweet as if they're about to sing a song about skipping through summer meadows, the boys dreamily staring at the ground, the girl trying out some freaky dancing and then at 46 seconds in it kicks in and the lead singer smiles a secret - he's about to unleash the happy Joy Division onto the world, Ian Curtis vox over such a joyous, jubilant tune.

January 2017

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