30 December 2015

Lemmy. RIP

If you're going to be a fucking rock star, go be one.

Lemmy might have been fed broken bottles and rusty blades as a child washed down with sulphuric acid and salt water - and that'd be how he got to have the most distinctive vocal growl in rock & roll. Motorhead were, well, Motorhead. A 40 year career dedicated to the art of their craft with no hidden agenda or technological trickery, no cop-out change of direction or carefully edited output...and don't ever look for complexities - there were none of those either. With Motorhead you always got the feeling that you WERE actually getting what you assumed you were....and that's because you always were. With the greatest of respect they were a reliable constant.

Lemmy's death is an end that will always feel too soon, Too soon for goodbyes. Too soon for understanding. Too soon to ever prepare for. It's exactly how he'd have wanted it.

Rest In Peace You Legend x

22 December 2015

Album Review: Beans On Toast.

Beans On Toast
'Rolling Up The Hill'
(Xtra Mile Recordings)

The philosophies of an introspective binge thinker

Essex born singer/songwriter Beans On Toast (real name Jay McAllister) began his career playing acoustic nights as part of the London folk scene in 2005 and, following a Glastonbury slot in 2007, has gone on to build a huge underground following in the UK. His straightforward social commentary with equal measures of jocular wordplay, self deprecation, genuine cynicism and wide-eyed storytelling may seem endearingly impolitic...but it's not....it's cultural anthropology. Though not quite the pissed off outsider he does have opinions and is opinionated enough to express them. Beyond any accurate definition..he's a hip-hop pub rock/social philosophy folk punk/ acoustic indie hippy rant poet.

 New album Rolling Up The Hill is his seventh and, in keeping with his own quirky tradition, released it on Dec 1st, his birthday, as he has done every year since debut album Standing On A Chair in 2009. Recorded in Kansas and produced by husband/wife country duo Truckstop Honeymoon who introduce their own distinct brand of sound with the inclusion of a double bass, mandolin and banjo alongside Beans' usual  acoustic infrastructure.

 It brings a subtle Americana bluesy tinge to the songs, especially so on catchy opener The Mudhills Crew a breezy harmonica driven accolade to nostalgia with fond recollection (Teenage kicks and teenage dreams/ We were the best of friends/And tonight I've been thinking about them) while the cleverly crafted poke at capitalism on Robin Hood Costume is a class conscious political protest rap strung across a simple repetitive beat.

His adoration for girlfriend Lizzie B creates uncomplicated boy/girl love songs like I'm Home When You Hold Me...tender with honesty and beautifully innocent (I know you love the ocean baby/ I know you love the sea/ Well you know that I love you/ And I know that you love me) It's unsophisticated schoolyard chalk heart poetics...and isn't that as it should be...Why should we ever complicate what love makes simple? It's the song of the year for me! 

God Is A Cartoonist is a vitriolic swipe at the instigating iconoclastic concepts of religion, conjouring from him  his most acidic backbiting volley yet (Every christian, every muslim and every atheist/ Has a god giving right to take the piss/Hallellujah god is good, god is great/God is a terrorist/ while  recent jaunts across the USA are chronicled in the foot-tapping travelogue of lead single The Great American Novel, a fond name-check through popular American culture with infectious storytelling enthusiasm in a charming framework of subtle bluegrass music 

His songs are a fascinating sojourn through jigsawed pieces of modern culture without wandering too far from the realities of modernity, The witty, observational lyricisms are intoxicating..and there is no evocative metaphors or idiotic unthinkable visions of a better world. This is an album of profound sincerity, genuine reflection and astonishing, spot on, social essaying with heart on sleeve integrity.

Written by: Alan Baillie
Published at BBC Music

21 December 2015

EP Review: Billy Liar

Racing through nine songs with the spirited intensity that defines him...this voracious cultural expressionist from within a turbulence of monologues...the skewed artiness of his freewheeling folk punk and true, rough-edged DIY. At times he is, for sure, the charged up narrator of his own frustrations snatching up personal wreckage from the alleyways of emotional squalor in a bombardment of impulsive eulogies. But he is as tender as he is proactive, a deep seated idealist, philosophically subjective enough to not always be ploughing at us with rebellious objection.

Opening song Some Nights is a whirling, hair-trigger of frenzied guitar that clocks in at just under two minutes long....followed by recent EP track Change his glorious homage to contempt through frustration (Is that too much to ask?/ Probably!) he sneers with a backbiting, vitriolic dismissal. The quick/slow/stop/start of Who I've Become nurtures poetic reflection underneath the blustering,hard faced exterior its delivery encourages it to adopt. Lyrically he flits between the wry and the clever, his storytelling narratives creating from the space between thought and expression.

His derisive, post-relationship break up summary The Coast Is Clear rattles with a contentious indifference (I will see you again/ And we'll pretend to be friends) its barely veiled subtleties dashed with realistic cynicism. Further songs include All I've Got, Is It Me?. Noose and a nod to the brilliant Withered Hand with a cover of No Cigarettes. 

Recorded one night in April at Edinburgh's Banshee Labyrinth...songs of urban adolescence and prevalent adulthood from the iconic roaming troubadour in the prolific style and resplendent sharpness of instinctive creativity.


7 December 2015

Transition Champ!

Taken from the forthcoming Wendy James album The Price Of The Ticket. It's all in the terminus of the expressiveness and the psychology of the mood. See dogmatic revisionism and resplendent sharpness collide in kaleidoscopic lyrical juxtaposition....That's what I'd say if I were to adopt the manner of a pretentious cunt! But I'm not and I'm not. I haven't heard the entirety of her new album yet,..but I bet it is all the things I just said... with a charming intellectual conceit for a bonus!

Adele's new album sold almost 4 million copies in its first week!

"Hello..It's me"

"Fuck off, Adele!"

Scott Weiland RIP

Former Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver frontman Scott Weiland died in his sleep on Thursday night while on tour with his current band The Wildabouts. He was 48. The singer was found dead on his tour bus around 9pm, just before he was due on stage at the Medina Entertainment Center with his band.. At the time of writing the cause of death remains unknown though some sources have reported he suffered a "possible cardiac arrest". His death has been confirmed by his wife of just two years, the photographer Jamie Weiland in a brief telephone conversation with a reporter from The Los Angeles Times.

Scott Weiland was best known for his time with grunge band Stone Temple Pilots who rose to fame at the start of the 1990's...their debut album Core has gone eight-times platinum and its follow up Purple achieved platinum status six times. In 2002 he teamed up with former Guns N Roses guitarist Slash to form Velvet Revolver. Their debut album Contraband hit the Number 1 spot on the Billboard 200. He left the band in 2008 to rejoin Stone Temple Pilots but in 2013 the band announced on their website that he'd been fired.

Scott had a long history of substance abuse and struggled with his addictions for many years. In 1995 he was arrested for possessing crack cocaine and, in his 2011 memoirs revealed he also used heroin. He led a troubled life and had many difficulties. His creative spark and unique style shone from him brighter than the sun ever could. Life may have denied him the inner peace he so needed but in death may it find him and keep him safe. RIP.x

11 October 2015

A Song For Sunday

I can't think of a better way to cheer a Sunday up than with a Christmas song that lasts just 34 seconds! It's the catchiest half minute you're ever likely to have...so be thankful for it and be filled with joyous luv-buzz happiness.

Happyfuckingsunday! x

10 October 2015

Jim Diamond RIP

Glasgow singer/songwriter Jim Diamond has died at the age of 64. The singer, whose hits included I Should Have Known Better, Hi Ho Silver and I Wont Let You Down passed away at his home in London. A spokesman for his family said they were 'deeply shocked by his sudden death' adding 'He was a devoted family man who loved his wife Chrissy and his children Sarah and Lawrence. He will be much missed by everyone who knew him'. His death comes less than a fortnight after announcing his mother Sarah had died.

Jim first made the UK singles chart in 1982 as singer with PhD - the single I Wont Let You Down reaching number three. He went on to gain international acclaim as a solo artist with the hugely successful I Should Have Known Better a UK number one in 1984 and  Hi Ho Silver - the theme tune for ITV series Boon which reached number 5 in 1986.

Fans have been leaving tributes on his Facebook page HERE
His official website is HERE

May you rest in peace...Scotland's answer to Ray Charles....we will miss you dearly.

2 October 2015

Album Review... Keith Richards: Crosseyed Heart

Keith Richards
'Crosseyed Heart'
(Virgin EMI)

The facile composer of rock and rolls greatest riffs with his first solo album in over two decades

He is the quintessential rock & roll star.The literal definition. A rough edged, hard living vagabond spending almost 50 years on the drugs and booze frontline - this connoisseur of excess and hedonism who has wrong-footed and body swerved his own death so many times he has possibly earned the right to .live forever. As much as his widely documented exploits may have their place in popular culture it's in the formidable Rolling Stones songwriting partnership with Mick Jagger that the sheer magnificence of his greatness truly shines. And  in songs like...  Jumpin Jack Flash, Brown Sugar, Paint It Black and Satisfaction they have created some of rock musics greatest moments.

His new solo album Crosseyed Heart, the first since 1992's Main Offender, is deeply rooted in the music he is influenced by. It's the essentiality of the man, a compendium of distinction in measured parts of accomplished musicianship from bluesy rock and Americana to jazz, reggae and straight up ballsy rock and roll. Roughly hewed, lovelorn, beautifully crafted and with a passion that sears for an honesty divulged, 

Opening with the title track, a gentle eight-bar acoustic blues that clocks in at under two minutes,His rasping vocal, all worn out and life roughened, as he deliberates  '(Oh she's sweet but she drives me round the bend/ I go round the corner and find another friend/ I got a crosseyed heart) across the unflinching briefness of its entirety. The Country-tinged lament Robbed Blind is clasped in atmospheric piano and brooding pedal steel guitar. His sleepy, half-spoken vocal rattles with a subdued anguish as he interprets the lyrically tender tale... (the heart you stole was mine) with a profuse vulnerability.

The pre-released single Trouble is trademark Keith Richards, a riff-swaggering rock & roll song with hook laden bluesy-rock guitar chords - his cracked vocal delivery on the chorusing 'Baby, trouble is your middle name' powers its way through the Stonesy-styled grooves. The formula is similar on the melodic, guitar-driven Heartstopper and funky R&B track Substantial Damage.

One of several standout moments is his reggae tinged cover of the Gregory Issac classic Love Overdue complete with horn section and a surprisingly warm and tender Keith Richards vocal delivery that oscillates with a depth and character you would never have believed him to be capable of.  Less so the drawn out cover of Leadbelly's Goodnight Irene which fails to justify its place here and becomes the albums only real disappointment.

A collaboration with jazz singer Nora Jones on the yearnful Illusion sees her smoky, deep reaching tone weave tenderly around the reflective mood of his 'Just an illusion that's for sure/Nothing that you've seen before' they sing, sharing lines and switching roles.. while  frenetic nod to his Chuck Berry influence Blues In The Morning is an energetic 50's rocker featuring longtime friend and collaborator the late Bobby Keys.

This album is the very best of his solo efforts to date...a snake tangled, liquor drenched, rough diamond rocker with scattershot rural Americana and some sweet little rustic country blues all heaved together brilliantly. Personally I think it's better than anything The Rolling Stones have done since Exile On Main St.....and it's right here that you truly understand the fundamental importance of Keith Richards....right down to that ragged machine of a voice. If, like me, you kinda took him for granted as 'the Rolling Stones guitarist' then listen to this album and have your eyes opened and your opinions re-shuffled. The man is superb.

21 September 2015

16 August 2015

Album Review: The Decline: Resister

The Decline
Some frenetic rabble rousing fury and nostalgic chaos from the Australian skate punks

Skate punk is a sub-genre that combines the breakneck pace of melodic hardcore with the catchy youthful bounce of pop punk, giving it that very solid wall of guitar riffs and powerful drumming. It's not a new concept of cross-genre music by any means and it's a much used, overcrowded one thanks to the popularity of bands like NOFX, Suicidal Tendencies, Pennywise, Sick Of It All and Lagwagon who, through various personal adaptions of their own interpretation, generated the global reputation of skate punk music and, in turn, inspired a million other bands to follow suit. Some of those bands became really good and some became really not so. Australian band The Decline (with this album being the reference point from where my opinion is based) seem to be of the former.

Things here really couldn't begin any better than they do with the short but powerful opener NEW AGAIN, a song that lasts less than two minutes yet manages to hammer out a formidable entrance, bristling with energy and utter immediacy. It's quickly followed by the effective stop/start/stop guitar work that begins recent single GIVING UP IS A GATEWAY DRUG, a great song with little flourishes of inventive brilliance - with its change in chord pace and sudden vocal dips. It's a showcase for incredible drumming on faster paced THE BLURST OF TIMES pounding a symphony of melodic and frenzied skate punk percussion that ends with a clever guitar solo.

There's a heavier sounding hardcore launch for frenetic CAMBERWELL STREET, the ever restless punk rock urgency is skippered by some well pitched melodic partnering....again that ever present intuitive musicianship gathers things up and brings it together with a slick competence.WRECKING BALL has pace and it punches and snaps its way forward with aggressive punk energy, the crunching guitars and fiery attitude are intermixed with melodic vocal combinations...similarly the malevolent YOU'RE NOT THE WAITRESS and final track START AGAIN.

This may not be the album that will go on to inspire a new direction, but I'm pretty sure that is something this band are well aware of anyway. They seem genuine enough for what they do to ever care for or need such bloated accolades of superficial wank egoism....and it's a pretty good album nonetheless. Awash with neat guitar chords and huge rabble rousing bursts of sound it's kept mostly simple concise and to the absolute point....utilising their skilled musicianship at precise moments to suddenly steer things in a different direction...delightful bodyswerves you didn't see coming that completely change an entire song in that instant.  Far from being some copycat fraudsters of a work already made they are a band delivering a perfectly executed homage to their  influences with plenty of their own originality on view....just to prove their point.


15 August 2015

Video Playlist: Back Street Hangout


Rollicking guitar-driven big sound punk and blues

A stomping fuzz-punk holocaust of raw garage trash blues

Primitive bluesy punk sex rock and roll

A self assured rock and roll guitar/drums meandering giant

Fractured rockabilly/ gutter blues hybrid

A one-man blues trash scuzz rock band

A rollercoastering swill of electro clash garage synth disco punk monstering

Late night alehouse harmonica rock and blues

Garage punk/thrash insanity cranked up to full power

Catchy art/garage rock noise monsters

Scuzzy, snarling, blissed out noise-pop

Surf-fused lo-fi garage punk rock

Stripped back rock and roll distortion

One man, hook laden, pop/punk onslaught

Tuneful, all female garage punks

4 August 2015

New For Tuesday;

The new single from Fidlar...is called West Coast.

Happy fucking Tuesday!

2 August 2015

Cilla Black R.I.P

Cilla Black sadly died today at her holiday home in Marbella, Spain. She was 72.  Best remembered for her successful television career hosting two of Saturday nights biggest shows Surprise Surprise and Blind Date where she quickly established herself in the hearts of the nation. Previous to her TV fame Cilla Black was a 60's pop star after being signed by Beatles manager Brian Epstein in 1963. Her debut single Love of the Loved was written by Lennon and McCartney. She had two number one hits the following year with You're My World and Anyone Who Had A Heart. Cilla went on to release 14 albums throughout her successful pop career before moving into television in the early 70's. Rest In Peace.


19 July 2015

6 Online Music Documentaries You Should Watch.

A 50 minute documentary made by the BBC in 1999 with lots of television clips, live concert extracts, backstage coverage and solo interviews with each of the four members.
Excellent in-depth documentary on Marc Bolan's life and career.
Archive footage and contributions from fellow glam rock stars

Enigmatic metal band are documented via rare footage, interviews, news reports and contributions from friends with none of the controversy left out.

Autobiographical depiction of the band from their beginnings as pub band The Invaders to their eventual chart success and global stardom. Featuring live gig clips and a selection of Madness hits. Fans of the band will love it.

The 70mins documentary traces the history of anarcho punk band CRASS through archive footage of live performances and interviews with the bands former members Penny Rimbaud, Steve Ignorant and Gee Vaucher

With previously unseen footage Made Of Stone is a fascinating journey through the life of one of the  most influential and innovative bands in the history of British music as they prepare for their 2012 reunion tour culminating in a triumphant homecoming Manchester performance in front of 75,000 fans.

9 July 2015

Album Review: Sleaford Mods

Sleaford Mods
'Key Markets'
(Harbinger Sound)

The deeply perceptive outrage of a skilled social commentator

The socially conscious observational elegies of Sleaford Mods are hybrid relatives of the descriptive essaying found in the romanticised Englishness of The Kinks...a specific, distinctive style of picturesque lyricism, a huge photo-album of narratives almost, that can be easily viewed and interpreted for what they are. Moments are usually fleeting..but to ensure those fleeting moments remain is where the reputations of good and bad lyricists are built. It's a method of writing popularised in recent years by Ian Dury, Alex Turner and Pete Doherty...as one might update a diary, endless sequels to advancing modernity, triumphs of a past still culturally significant in this ever changing Britain...Today's most relevant of chroniclers, without question, are Nottingham post-punk/hip hop duo Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn...best known as Sleaford Mods.

Their third album 'proper' Key Markets is as previous two Austerity Dogs (2013) and Divide And Exit (2014) were. Jason Williamson's enraged dystopian monologues are brilliantly precise and show a sharp intellect for discourse...kicking and prodding at the face of a broken society with venomous grammatical zig-zagging. Andrew Fearn's minimal orchestration of strong, low toned bass lines and skeletal discordant beats is what completes that compelling curveball and sets them slightly apart from the rest. Latest single No One's Bothered is a catchy, quick paced, punk driven bluster of exasperated irritation...'You're trapped? Me too! Alienation, No one's bothered!' chants Williamson with swiping sarcasm, above the relentless drumbeat and throbbing bass, in a dig at human behaviours fading sense of connection under capitalism. In another withering analytical jab, this time on the marching swagger of Bronx In A Six he lashes out from the slow handclap of a beat 'You wonder why you've got no mates? You pretend to be proud of your own culture, while simultaneously not giving two fucks about your own culture, what culture? FUCK CULTURE, all you chinny wine tasters die in boxes like the rest of us wasters'. The bone rattling fury inspires such imaginative put-downs you start to wonder if the devil might have breathed a howling demon into his vernacular mouth.

 The sashaying groove funk of Silly Me is the laid back, slowest song on the album while Tarantula Deadly Cargo with its post-punk thrum is a fragmented cinematic transition. But its the enraged political conviction of Face To Faces that brings out his best, and most frenzied bout of uncompromising vitriolic wordsmithery yet....'‘Nick Clegg wants another chance. Really? This daylight robbery is now so fucking hateful. It’s accepted by the vast majority..In chains, in our death and in our failure to grab hold of what fucking little we have left we have lost sight, And in the loss of sight we have lost our fucking minds, ALRIGHT??!.... Genius. Pure and utter! 

What endears Sleaford Mods to the people is the subject matter of their songs and the fact its real. Most of us can relate to some if not all of what they sing about. The unfussy, no frills pub philosophies, dole que politics and council estate manners. It's that spilled beer and cheap tobacco ambience of dead end destinations where streets are narrow, most roads will lead nowhere...and that very British of traditions to resent the rich and nurture anti-establishment hatred.. alienating us from anyone with power.

They’re not canvassing to be the spokesmen of this generation.. merely voicing their own frustrations and dislikes and if they mirror our own then it shall be a shared mutual distaste that brings us together…nothing more. Jason Williamson will always be an outburst waiting to happen. Andrew Fearn will always let his beats do the talking. Sleaford Mods are the best band in the country.

Sleaford Mods Homepage

Written by: Alan Baillie
Published at : Subba Cultcha.

27 May 2015

No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers

Who's responsible - you fucking are

It's been twenty something years since the mouthy neo-glam punks in eyeliner burst through the walls of our world with their youth and fury yelling their mandates and lecturing us with their iconic riff-powered protest songs, Their precocious intellect composed misanthropic dogma for revolutionists and endorsed the disenchanted to rouse from apathetic slumber. The songs were lashed with despair, hate, passion, revolt, love and vigorous two fisted aggression (now you say you know how we feel / but dont fall in love cos we hate you still) and an orchestra of crunching, spine rattling guitar work narrated with a furious vocal and again the accomplished grammatical nihilism. The brash sloganeers, a fireball of youthful determination armed with menacing politico and the intent to ravage us like a holocaust. They turned pop culture inside out - songs that heaved with political messages, unbroken prose, subtext, literary references and Nietzschean quotes and became more a snarling consumer of culture, a new breed of realism (I laughed when Lennon got shot) Now, nearly 30 years on from their fledgling cockiness Manic Street Preachers are still with us. They have carried each other through the darkness that has clouded them since the sudden disappearance of guitarist/lyricist Richey Edwards in 1995 and are now stalwarts of British music naturally evolving with their own years into a mellower, more content representation of the stirring agitators they once were. 

Almost 10 years in the making No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers by American director Elizabeth Marcus is the long awaited documentary about the band as chronicled through interviews with almost 100 fans from across the world alongside some archive footage, conversations with each member of the band and live performances from three tours. Through her use of the hand held camera Elizabeth Marcus generates an uncontrived intimacy especially when filming the band in their own personal surroundings and revealing the very ordinary lives they live away from their role in the band. It shows them at their most human - a side the public never get to see. I remember feeling mildly disappointed that they weren't in fact leaders of some anti-establisment non conformist organisation who held meetings once a week in the upstairs room of a pub. But then, if I'm honest..I never really hoped they would be.

No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers is out now on DVD and Blue Ray HERE 

Written by Alan Baillie for Spin Utopia...June 24 2015.

23 May 2015

The Prodigy feat Sleaford Mods

It's been a while since I posted anything in here - and that's because I have nothing to post - due to personal circumstances. I hope to return soon enough. Until then....feast on this!



12 April 2015

Davey Lane.

Best known as lead guitarist of excellent Australian rock band You Am I...Davey Lane released his debut solo album Atonally Young at the end of 2014. This was the second single to be taken from the album. If you aren't already familiar with Davey Lane, or indeed the band You Am I...then I suggest you start digging in....you'll love what you find. You'll love it all.

8 March 2015

Playlist For A Sunday.

The Rifles: When I'm Alone

Milburn: Cheshire Cat Smile

Harrisons: Dear Constable

The Paddingtons: What's The Point In Anything New

Bromheads Jacket: Fight Music For The Fight

The Futureheads: Decent Days And Nights

The Sunshine Underground: Borders

The Libertines: Don't Look Back Into The Sun

The Coral: Bill McCai

The Music: Take The Long Road And Walk It.

Shed Seven: Out By My Side

The Supernaturals: Dung Beetle

The Cigarettes: All We Want Is Your Money

The Lambrettas: Poison Ivy

The Circles: Opening Up

The Jam: News Of The World

Arctic Monkeys: Teddy Picker

Franz Ferdinand: The Fallen

Reverend And The Makers: Shine The Light

Alterkicks: Oh Honey

22 February 2015

Quiet Marauder: A Band You May Never Have Known Existed

 Cardiff based Quiet Marauder are a loose collective of eccentric oddball musicians who have been on the go since 2011 playing their madcap, deranged, dizzy headed anti-folk songs to a perplexed but intrigued public. Their debut album 'MEN' was one hundred and eleven tracks long, split into four volumes and featured numerous collaborators making endless bursts of noise from unidentifiable sources. A mountain of oddities and mischievous mentalism. They are as darkly comical as they are creatively clever.

20 February 2015

The Smiths: Meat Is Murder: The 30th Anniversary

Meat Is Murder
(Rough Trade)
Feb 1985

The Smiths ruled the world from 1982 -1987. A world in which the plight of the thin skinned and vulnerable was bestowed with solace and facilitated with an empathy never before considered in rock and roll music. For 5 years they fostered the unguarded souls of dear old Britain, giving a voice to the laconic efforts of shyness. They were a government for the crestfallen. Sentinels of the brittle hearted. A rousing call to arms for anyone struggling to find their place in this world. But it wasn’t just the dramatic and poetic who welcomed this sudden liberation of their inner angst. Half the world, and likely more, pronounced The Smiths the most vital development rock music has ever been blessed with. They saved music during the 80’s. Before them the UK music scene was dangerously monotonous and close to duplicating itself with the safety valve of punk rock. The Smiths captivated and stirred a nation with vivid, down to earth lyrics set against a backdrop of shimmering guitar driven anthems and unpretentious balladry. 

Morrissey ever the persona of a fading music hall idol dragged from the 50’s, remains one of the most worshipped frontmen to ever occur in modern day rock music. His passion for the gossiping backyard communities which were once the fundamental representation of the north but were destroyed alongside declines in industry, brought a working class inflection to his lyrics. His sentimental interpretation of conventional misfortunes was a perfect canvas for the astonishing imagery created by his words. His lyrical announcements were conflicting and extrinsic against the generic meatiness regarded standard rock and roll in 1982. Everything Morrissey  wrote had to be consolidated through music sympathetic enough to not lose any of the essence. Johnny Marr was gifted enough to ensure the balance worked. His musical input enhanced the narration of the lyrics through melodic sentiment. Marr rarely, if ever, misjudged the transport required to transmit a Morrissey lyric sincerely enough. This uncanny perception, alongside the impeccable drumming of Mike Joyce and bass playing of Andy Rourke gave The Smiths their dexterity and magnificence.

Released 30 years ago this month Meat Is Murder, their second studio album, was the harder, darker edge of The Smiths. From vegan rage to mindless violence, everything feels confrontational and emotionally direct right down to the strident pro-vegetarian album title which is immediately discordant, uncomfortable and provoking. A Guerrilla Marketing concept?....possibly. Dogmatic social obstruction?...undoubtedly. This was a tougher sound with tougher subject matter (violence and death being the principal themes) Morrissey, one of the most uncompromising lyricists to ever exist, was never better than when rattling with resent. 

It only takes the acidic tirade in the first lines of album opener The Headmaster Ritual for his seething hatred to become immediately apparent..'belligerent ghouls/run Manchester schools/spineless swines/cemented minds/  he sings with blatant deliberation before his utter contempt for the educational system and it's bullying teaching staff  spills over into vengeful satire..'sir leads the troops/jealous of youth/ same old joke since 1902/, with everything held together by a stunning Andy Rourke bassline and the gifted complexities of Johnny Marr's lair after lair after lair of incredible guitar playing.The pre-adolescent tale of broken hearts and fairground violence, Rusholme Ruffians, takes it's funky 60's rockabilly bass line from Elvis Presley's 'Marie's The Name' as Morrissey weaves his way through Johnny Marr's acoustic riffs, unfurling his obsession for second hand violence 'a boy is stabbed/and his money is grabbed/ and the air hangs heavy like a dulling wine' as the music, far from being as dark as the subject, skips and bounds with cheerful contradiction...Morrissey's gossiping judgmental swipe 'her skirt ascends for a watching eye/ it's a hideous trait on her mother's side' turning over the bare bones of human fragility with effortless poetic nonchalance. It's the melodrama of youth in all it's broken down desperation and macho uber-violence, sound-tracked by catchy jangle rockabilly. Shuddering with yearning and sexual abiguity I Want The One I Can't Have is quite possibly one of the best songs ever written. It's a stand-out track - a catchy, quick paced indie pop tale of frustration and a doomed one sided infatuation....It veers from the impressionable criminal tirade 'he killed a policeman when he was thirteen/and somehow that really impressed me/its written all over my face' to the pleading, clutching at straws outburst 'if you ever need some self elevation/ just meet me in the alley by the railway station'... and it's all forlorn and musically infectious, tramping it's way to a  sudden end. 

The disruptive What She Said is frenzied 3 minute rock and roll that ditches the standard opening in favour of gradually fading itself in until you're hit with the full power of Johnny Marr and his guitar cranked up to punk rock levels alongside a pounding Mike Joyce drumbeat. It's the emphatic account of a downhearted female whose misfortunes are chronicled in Morrissey's finely tuned satirical narratives and biting jabs of cruelty  'what she said was sad/but then all the rejection she's had/to pretend to be happy could only be idiocy'  ending with a terribly spiteful 'la la la la la la'  He saves his most dramatic, over the top line for last...with the casually uttered testimony 'i smoke because i'm hoping for an early death/ and i need to cling to something'  before it all storms off into raging guitar/drums crescendo. The only track from the album to be released as a single That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore, the unrelentingly dark lament with lush arrangement and haunting lead guitar is emotionally unsettling as it soars and sinks in its almost muted respect for Morrissey's melancholic vocal delivery of some brilliantly written, concise lines...'when you laugh about people who feel so very lonely/ their only desire is to die' .... awash with tender realism, a cynical awareness and striking curiosity - all brought together as he croons the line 'i've seen this happen/ in other people's lives/and now it's happening in mine' with a brooding solemnity as if each lyrical recollection is the re-living of an agony. As natural as rain it shifts from melancholic despair to jaunty tomfoolery with the tempo shifting Nowhere Fast, a quick paced, guitar driven fun song featuring Morrissey's articulations of schoolboy wit...'i'd like to drop my trousers to the queen'  he gleefully sings, before shifting down the political gears to proclaim 'the poor and the needy/ are selfish and greedy/on her terms' but in the very same mischevious tones and tongue-in-cheek bluster.

The gentle delicate simplicity of Well I Wonder is what makes it such a brilliant song. Everything jigsaws into perfect position from the temperate guitar strands, the plunging honesty of the lyrics and the atmospheric rainfall captured so alluringly on the last 63 seconds of the song. The lyrics spin a cluster of contradicting emotional innervation....from the desperately hopeful ' please keep me in mind'  to harrowing sorrow 'gasping/dying/but somehow still alive/ this is the final stand of all I am'  the sinewy despair of a shattered heart. Essentially a simple song about parent/child discipline Barbarism Begins At Home has just one repeated verse and chorus where every line is the voice of the no-nonsense parental disciplinarian....'unruly boys who will not grow up must be taken in hand/ unruly girls who will not settle down must be taken in hand and the menacing chorus 'a crack on the head is what you get for asking/and a crack on the head is what you get for not asking. But what gives the song something slightly magical is Andy Rourke's funky four-bar disco bassline, Johnny Marr's catchy guitar work...and Morrissey's vocal yelping. At nearly 7 minutes this has the potential to die somewhere long before it's scheduled end.....but the sheer delivery creates an emotional impact that grips you long after.

Bringing the album to a close is the mesmerising title track itself Meat Is Murder, the opening slaughterhouse noise samples and intricate piano, when combined in such a way, is an apocalyptic howl of angst ridden sorrow that shuffles on the jittery atmosphere of anticipation. This harmony-led adventure into darkness is undoubtedly Morrissey's moment to speechify - never has the subject matter been as reflective of an artist than here. Though he preaches rather than opening it for debate (this beautiful creature must die/ a death for no reason/ and death for no reason is MURDER!) it still manages to punctuate the gaps between singer and listener, regardless of opinion (No! No! No! it is murder/ do you know how animals die?) Damaged enough to break your heart it may not be, but it's potent enough to give cautious impartiality something to ponder upon.

As an album it never quite earned the accolades it surely deserves. Dismissed by many as The Smiths self-absorbed worst album and accepted by some as a half decent effort that got lost in its own translation. Personally I think it is a record of uncontested masterpieces - an array of brilliant moments that, when considered in their individual segments, are possibly some of the best things The Smiths ever achieved. Let's be honest, if this is the efforts of a band falling short of what they'd already shown they could do courtesy of the previous years debut album release then would they really have managed to follow this up with what is considered their greatest ever album The Queen Is Dead just over a year later?

Play entire album at SPOTIFY  HERE

9 February 2015

Album Review: Muzikal Yooth

The Green Door Kids
Muzikal Yooth

The Green Door Music studio opened in Glasgow in 2007 and began running a series of musical workshops sponsored by The Scottish Arts Council and aimed at the young and the unsigned musicians of the community. The recordings on this album are the results of two particular courses - the Youth Music Summer School (10-16yr olds) and their older counterparts from the Song-Crafters Production course. Muzikal Yooth is a collection of discordant cover versions of songs by garage/punk luminaries such as The Stooges, The Cramps and The Monks - unfamiliar territory maybe, for the majority of artists taking part in this record, but that’s surely what such workshops are designed to encourage - the unleashing of creativity in whatever shape, form or sound it might take - and it’s a good thing to hear. ‘Louie Louie’ and ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ are included, as are ‘Funtime’ and ‘The Way I Walk’, all in glorious lo-fi production. There’s even a acoustic cover of the Elvis Presley song ’The Girl Of My Best Friend’.  The only original composition on the whole album is the piano instrumental ‘Metaphysical Circus’ which is rather brilliantly executed and proof of just how important projects like this are if talent is to be nurtured and given the means to blossom. For sure it isn’t the greatest compilation of covers you’ll ever hear but that was never going to be the point of this release anyway. It’s the enthusiasm in which they approach this along with the knowledge they’re clearly gaining in every other aspect of making and producing music that matters, and if it was down to just good old commitment and dedication then this album would shine out forever.

8 February 2015

From The Archives: Glen Campbell Album Review

Glen Campbell
Greatest Hits
Capitol Records
He may have his critics but you can’t argue with a career that spans almost 50 years straight. And every music lover on the planet is guaranteed to know at least one of his songs. He crossed country music with a pop vibe and established a whole new sound. C&W can thank him for saving its jaded little ass, big time! Even Q magazine doffed their caps to his contribution handing him their Legend Award in 2008. True, his best material is behind him, and today’s musical climate would only embrace ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ if covered by Glasvegas - but his legacy can’t be denied.

This latest Greatest Hits package contains all the usual suspects - ‘Wichita Lineman’, Gentle On My Mind’, ‘Galveston’ etc etc. We’ve heard them all before - except maybe his rendition of Jackson Browne’s ‘These Days’, which is also his new single.  It’s impossible to have a Glen Campbell compilation without the songs he’s known for. Therefore it will always seem a bit repetitive and cynical. This batch has gone through the cosmetics of ‘remastering’ just to sound that wee bit prettier for you fickle folk. But regardless of modern manipulation his existence remains an important part of a musical heritage. Of course, as you know, he was more interpreter than author, and has much to thank others for. But he brought his own style to it - and that’s pretty special!

1 February 2015

The Lyrics Of Half Man Half Biscuit

In honour of their gig at Edinburgh Liquid Rooms
A selection of the greatest Half Man Half Biscuit lyrics

A woman who described herself as “A little bit Bridget, a little bit Ally, a little bit Sex And The City” and chose to call her baby boy Fred as a childishly rebellious attempt at a clever reaction to those who might have expected her to call him Julian or Rupert. Bit of advice: call him Rupert, it fits, and besides it’s a good name. Don’t be calling him Fred or Archie, with all its cheeky but lovable working class scamp connotations, unless you really do have plans for him to spend his life in William Hill’s waiting for them to weigh in at Newton Abbot.
(Breaking News)

Curse those in charge of plots, curse these forget-me-nots
I’ve been sharing my innermost thoughts with an Edward Macrae
I’m inconsolable, and at times uncontrollable
Ah, but she wouldn’t know, ‘cos she’s two hundred metres away…
(Tending The Wrong Grave For 23 Years)

And all those people who you romantically,
Like to still believe are alive,
Are dead!
(Dickie Davis Eyes)

If you're going to quote from the Book of Revelation
Don't keep calling it the Book of Revelations
There's no "s", it's the Book of Revelation
As revealed to St John the Divine
See also Mary Hopkin
She must despair
You've got a shit arm, and that's a bad tattoo
You've got a shit arm, and that's a bad tattoo
(Shit Arm, Bad Tattoo)

Is your child hyperactive, or is he perhaps a twat?
Sometimes I like to watch Wave Rage down on Fistral Beach
Last Ash Wednesday I had tantric sex and it was shit
Next Ash Wednesday I might strive to lick my elbow
(Surging Out Of Convalescence)

Demon fiend, leave your tomb
Seek out the Virgin womb
Hey Chris from Future Doom
You left your lyrics in the practice room
(Left Lyrics In The Practice Room)

Faked my way through Glastonbury
By acting all asexually
And then in the acoustic tent
She stood there as if heaven sent
Well if that’s not Enya
That’s not Enya
That’s not Enya
That’s not Enya
(Sensitive Outsider)

Here she lies in her fleecy gown
By my side in the eiderdown
But she can’t get a ticket to Morningtown
‘Cos I’ve got restless legs
Boring though this film may be
Slumber still won’t visit thee
So long as you stay next to me
For I have restless legs
(Restless Legs)

Car crime’s low, the gun crime’s lower
The town hall band CD, it’s a grower
You never hear of folk getting knocked on the bonce
Although there was a drive-by shouting once
(For What Is Chatteris)

On a sinking ship a sailor yearns
For his Joy Division oven gloves
Nero fiddles while Gordon Burns
In his Joy Division oven gloves
Talk to the hands, talk to the hands
In his Joy Division oven gloves
Dance dance dance dance
In your Joy Division oven gloves
(Joy Division Oven Gloves)

12 drummers singing
11 chairmen dancing
10 mascots whinging
9 stewards flapping
8 christening invites
7 cows a-barking
6 vicars strumming
4 boring words
Carphone Warehouse and Matalan
And a pulled-up at Bangor-On-Dee 
(Upon Westminster Bridge)

 I should have just got a job on the bins
The pay's better and I know some hard blokes
And I wouldn't have to pretend
That I know what rhetorical means
(Lark Descending)

Who the fucking hell are Slipknot?
(Vatican Broadside)

Hey, hey, hey, the sun has got his hat on
Sing hosanna, the jazz snobs are all going home

And the young girl may come to her senses
And the wretch may get tetchy and leave
And the chap wracked with anguish incarnate
May gladly accept his reprieve
But the fates around these parts are ruthless
And sometimes just want people dead
So he'll probably throw himself under
The ten twenty-seven instead
(The Coroners Footnote)

Street parties in Redcar
Oh Mr Woo
What shall I do?
Surrogate Grundy
Sold on a Monday
To Richard and Judy
(Mars Ultras You'll Never Make The Station)

24 January 2015

The 'Perfect' Love Song?

There is no such thing as the perfect love song in it’s absolute entirety…except, maybe, to the one who wrote it. But once it’s unleashed upon the world our natural cut & paste reactions get to work snatching lines here and there to satisfy the internal root map we never cease building from birth to death. The head selects various lyrics of relevance and translates them into recognisable chunks of biographical emotion so the heart can embrace and appoint them as the standard bearers of our own experiences. Memories require a soundtrack and picture show in order to project the correct emotional depth required to transport us immediately back to a particular moment - and it’s this fine art of selective memory building that we adopt when listening to love songs. A storybook of words ready to be manipulated by whichever narratives our requirements happen to conjure up has no interest, usually, in the entire song. So, while the ‘perfect love song’ may not be exactly that to everyone - we still lift bones from it to sketch our own heart-sparks. We are, as is our nature, plundering plagiarists should the need arise. In other words, every love song is perfect for adopting and customising - but not acceptable in the form it’s creator delivers it in. Sunshine for our suburban dystopia indeed!

17 January 2015

Morrissey Announces Six UK Dates In March

The short six date UK tour announced by Morrissey last week will begin at Nottingham FM Arena on 13th March before moving on to Bournemouth, Cardiff, Leeds and Glasgow, finishing at Birmingham on 27th March. Industry rumours insist further dates will be announced in due course..and significant gaps in Morrissey's schedule certainly seem to suggest that possibility (as might the absence of any dates in his Manchester home turf) As yet no further dates have been added and tickets for the six confirmed shows are now on sale....

Morrissey UK 2015

March 13 - Nottingham Capital FM Arena

March 14 - Bournemouth International Centre

March 18 - Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

March 20 - Leeds First Direct Arena

March 21 - Glasgow SSE Hydro

March 27 - Birmingham Barclaycard Arena

Further info at http://www.true-to-you.net/