Another wee bit of a cheat here……

The idea for today’s posting came from someone saying the other day that weren’t aware that Andrew Collins had penned a Billy Bragg bio. That got me thinking that there might be a few great music books written over the past few years that some of you might not know about. So here’s 24 of my personal favourties with a short description as well as links to amazon.uk to pick them up where they exist. If there’s no link, you can always try e-bay or alternatively google for other placces:-

All That Ever Mattered : The History of Scottish Rock & Pop – Brian Hogg (1993)

It is a crying shame that this impressive piece of work is out of print. With a title taken from an Oeange Juice song, this is the story of everyone who was anyone in Scottish rock and pop, all the way from he early days of rock’n’ roll and skiffle through to the early 90s reign of the likes of Deacon Blue and Wet Wet Wet. Another book that I’d love to see updated….

Bad Vibes : Britpop and My Part In Its Downfall – Luke Haines (2009)

In which the former frontman of The Auteurs recounts an insiders view of all that was wrong with UK pop music in the 1990s

Head On/Repossessed – Julian Cope (2005 – new paperback edition)

Two sets of memoirs by one of the maddest men in pop. Head On is subtitled “Memories of the Liverpool Punk Scene and The Story of The Teardrop Explodes (1976-82) while Repossessed is subtitled “Shamanic Depressions in Tamworth & London (1983-89). Unputdownable. Click here to buy.

It Crawled From The South – Marcus Gray (1997)

Almost 600 pages long, this is the best researched and most detailed of books that tell the story of REM. But surely given how much has happened to the band over the past 12 years since publication is long overdue an update…..

Morrissey & Marr : The Severed Alliance (1993 – 2nd Revised Edition)

The story of the rise and fall of The Smiths, the lives of singer Steven Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr and the differences that tore them apart. Click here to buy.

Renegade : The Lives & Tales of Mark E Smith – Mark E Smith with Austin Collings (2009)

There have been a number of biographies of the legendary Smith, but this is the first time he has opened up in a full autobiography. For the first time we get to hear his full, candid take on the ups and downs of a band as notorious for its in-house fighting as for its great music; and on a life that has endured prison in America, drugs, bankruptcy, divorce, and the often bleak results of a legendary thirst. Click here to buy

Tainted Life – Marc Almond (1999)

Marc Almond’s story features a larger than life cast of characters. It recounts his “de rigeur” plunge into drink, drugs and debauchery as well as being an intimate portrait of the star-making personalities of the 1980s.

Things The Grandchildren Should Know – Mark Oliver Everett (Paperback Edition 2009)

The Eels frontman tells the incredible story of what it’s like to grow up the insecure son of a genius in a wacky Virginia Ice Storm-like family, of how he ended up becoming a musician and how various tragic events in his life shaped his songs and lyrics. One of the most remarkable rock bios you could ever get your hands on. Click here to buy.

This Is Uncool : The 500 Greatest Singles since Punk & Disco – Gary Mulholland (2002)

In what amounts to a pop history of the latter part of the 20th Century, , music journalist Garry Mulholland has compiled a list of what he believes are the 500 greatest singles released since Anarchy In The UK .

I work in the world of hype and spin, but even I couldn’t have come up with the words that describe the collective that are going to take over part of the Flying Duck every now and again.

It’s all down to Drew from Across The Kitchen Table. Not only did he come up with the idea, but he made the approaches to get others involved, scouted out the venue, spoke to the folk who run The Flying Duck, and sorted out the logo/images. All the while I was lazing around on a beach many thousands of miles away.

The truth is that I’m quite nervous about it all. It’s one thing posting some mp3s and some words here on a daily basis knowing that if folk dont like things they can dive across to someone else’s blog or at worst switch off the PC. It is a totally different scenario trying to entice folk to giving up some of their precious time to come into the centre of Glasgow and not only listen to what I’m playing but hopefully dancing to it. Then again, if they don’t like what I’m doing, they can hang around for a short time before another blogger takes to the decks or whatever contraption is to be deployed in respect of aural pleasure.

Ever since I realised what I had signed up, just about every song I listened to on the beach in Aruba has been analysed in terms of whether it had the potential to be a floorfiller, or at very least have the potential to create interest to get the toes-a-tapping. Then I started to worry about how to sequence the songs…..and then questions ran through my brain – should I have more than one song by the same artist in an evening, do I go with a few things that are obscure to show-off a bit, should I take requests, what will I do if something completely clears the floor (especially after Drew has revved up the whole thing just before I’ve come on) etc etc etc…….

But despite all of that, I am so looking forward to Saturday 12th June when I will forego the joys of England v USA in the Group Stages of the World Cup for something totally different…..I hope maybe some of you will be tempted. At the very least, please put the word around.

I guarantee that I will play at least one bit of vinyl that came out on Postcard Records and there’s likely to be a fair bit of the sort of stuff I used to dance to back in the early-mid 80s. The dubstep is likely to be left to one or two others.

Fatboy Jim will be in the house………

mp3 :

For an awful long time, I didn’t buy any vinyl. Didn’t see the point in it. Record player had been given away, and although the amps and speakers were stored in the loft of my mum and dad’s house, it really did look as if it would be CDs forever and a day.

Little did any of us realise just how technology would move on and in a strange way make vinyl not only fashionable once more, but essential for sad 40-somethings like me with a collecting habit that can be as addictive as any illegal substance.

In 1997, I did buy a lovely single that was released by The Wedding Present. It was the CD version that I bought – I wasn’t even aware at the time that it had also been made available in two limited edition 7″ versions. And until I was doing a bit of research for the posting, I wasn’t aware either that it had actually charted, albeit at #40 for just the one week. And that makes it quite a rarity for The Wedding Present who have only had two singles make the Top 40 since December 1992.

But thanks to the wonders of ebay and the fact that I spend far too much time scouring dusty second-hand stores, I’ve picked up a few things that I wish I’d had the foresight to buy back in the 90s, and one of the outcomnes being that I now have a copy of the single sitting in two separate places in Villain Towers.

From the CD:-

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Montreal
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Sports Car (acoustic)
mp3 : The Wedding Present – My Favourite Dress (live)
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Brassneck (live)

The live tracks are taken from two different shows – My Favourite Dress was recorded at the Sound City Festival in Leeds and Brassneck was recorded at the Reading Festival, both in 1996. And the version of Sports Car is an acoustic one, totally different from that which appears on the LP Mini. For one it features Jayne Lockey on lead vocal…..

And here’s the tracks that you could only get on vinyl**

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Project Cenzo
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Where Everybody Knows Your Name (Theme From ‘Cheers’)

**that’s a lie. They were also made available on a 1999 compilation LP entitled Singles 1995-97, something that I already had on the CD shelves, and so there was no need to actually buy the 7″ bits of vinyl. But that’s the sort of sadsack that I am (and thanks to Drew from Across The Kitchen Table for a recent postings about collecting music and being a sadsack which indirectly inspired today’s posting).

Happy Listening

If you google Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, you will soon realise that this 1998 LP has a huge number of admirers. Indeed, there’s loads of folk out there who are prepared to place it very high on any list of the greatest LPs ever released.

For instance, it is one of the 70 albums that have so far been covered by the series of books called 33 1/3.

It is an album that has attracted perfect ratings from all sorts of music mags, blogs and from critics who write or broadcast in mainstream media. Sure, it is also an album that has quite a few critics, but one thing for certain, it is a record that has been written and talked about a great deal.

Here’s a confession. Until I was browsing around in a record shop in Toronto in 2007, I had never heard of the band or this record. And the thing is, it wasn’t the music that first caught my attention, but the really impressive design of a green t-shirt.

I asked the

(I’ve searched everywhere for a photo of the

There’s loads of reviews and very few of them are anything but glowing

HIGHLIGHTING A BAND NEVER FEATURED BEFORE ON TVV……

The Freeze, not to be confused with the South London soul-funk group Freez, were formed in 1976 at Linlithgow Academy in Central Scotland, a school that was also attended by Alan Rankine co-founder of the Associates.

The main songwriter and singer Gordon Sharp was a flamboyant dresser with a gender twisting style, more of later.

As much as anything the music scene in the East of Scotland in the late ‘70’s was vibrant with groups playing a wide variety of pubs.

Two such venues were the Cunzie Neuk in Kinghorn and the Dutch Mill in Kirkcaldy. The Cunzie Neuk will always be remembered for its legendary carpet that stuck to your feet with every step. It was a combination of deep pile and McEwan’s Export.

I saw The Freeze play both pubs with their mixture of glam, punk and art rock with small dollop of Goth. Gordon Sharp loved dressing up in sequenced dresses with fishnet tights. This came in very handy after a gig at the Dutch Mill when my friend Hamish McIntosh lost a contact lens – it was only retrieved when Gordon stood on it wearing his fishnets and the lens got caught in his tights……..

I also came home to Kirkcaldy one Friday after work at St Andrews University to be told, that another friend, George “Dod” Fenton, would be picking me up at 6.30 pm and we would going to a pub in deepest darkest Dundee to see The Freeze play.

Now Dod was the scariest driver I had ever or to this day travelled with in a car. He owned a Hillman Hunter and he thought nothing of overtaking five other road users in the one manoeuvre. It was my first experience of a “white knuckle ride”, not helped by knowingg that he had written off his previous vehicle coming back from a Skids gig in Aberdeen after hitting black ice outside Montrose and rolling the car, an accident in which all occupants had miraculously walked away safely.

We survived the journey to Dundee but I didn’t think I’d survive the gig in one of Dundee’s depressive housing estate pubs when Gordon took to the makeshift stage area dressed in a flowing purple number to chorus of “look at that POOF!!!!”

The Freeze set featured cover versions of Roxy Music’s Virginia Plain and Eno’s Baby’s on Fire as well their own favourites Paranoia and Psychodalek Nightmares.

mp3 : The Freeze – Psychodalek Nightmares

They had two independently released singles the In Colour EP and Celebration and they went on to make two sessions for John Peel’s Radio One Show.

mp3 : The Freeze – Location (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Freeze – From The Bizarre (Peel Session)

In the summer of 1981, Dod Fenton and I went on holiday to Kavos in Corfu, I took with me a cassette containing one of the John Peel sessions. Our accommodation was above a taverna, the owner Terry was good enough to allow me to play the session tape over his music system as we sat under the stars enjoying our evening meal and drinking into the night.

In 1982, Gordon Sharp and fellow songwriter David Clancy relocated to London and changed the band name to Cindytalk.

Little known trivia fact – Gordon joined some near neighbours of his who lived in the town of Grangemouth when they recorded their own second Peel Sesssion – his near neighbours being The Cocteau Twins…..

In 1984 Cindytalk released their first album Camouflage Heart.

mp3 : Cindytalk – Of Ghosts & Buildings

The same year Sharp joined the afore-mentioned Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie to record It’ll End in Tears under the moniker This Mortal Coil; he also provided vocals for three other tracks, including the indie chart-topping Kangaroo, which was included in John Peel’s highly thought of festive 50 from 1984.

To this day Cindytalk continue to produce experimental electronic music and are highly thought of throughtout the world. In October 2009 they played Edinburgh for the first time ever. I ‘ll confess however, that I find their current output takes some listening to.

I prefer the fact that late last year, Dod’s brother Ian Fenton gave me mp3 copies of the John Peel sessions recorded by the Freeze.

It was great to take me back to that time in my life. Now, to complete the experience in full, I’m going to pour some beer on the carpet to make my feet stick while eating my tarmasolata and kebab.

John Greer, Sunday 30 May 2010

It’s now almost the end of May, and I’m just a matter of weeks away from celebrating my 47th Birthday. I take it I’ll never now make it as a famous DJ and will need to content myself with just doodling away here in blogland endeavouring to make a fewy folk happy.

I mention this as it means I’m now two years on from my 45 45s at 45 series in which I did a countdown of all my favourite singles. There were a couple of rules – namely that I had to have bought the single at its time of release and not picked up on years later, and furthermore, each singer or band was restricted to one entry in the rundown to prevent it being dominated by the likes of The Smiths, New Order and The Jam.

The newest song in the rundown came in at #43 and was the double A-side of Be Less Rude /Sing The Greys by Frightened Rabbit. But if I was doing the chart now, it wouldn’t feature anywhere due to the release of this song in 2008:-

mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – Fast Blood

With a lyric that David Gedge would have been proud of and a tune that more than does it justice, Fast Blood is a the tale of a situation that every single one of us has surely found ourselves in. That moment when lust takes over every single one of your senses and your brain stops functioning properly. You get reckless. Your entire world revolves around the one person whose eyes you are staring into. There’s only one thing on your mind…..and you are praying that they feel the same way.

Quite stunning. And I’ve been lucky enough to see some fabulously energetic live renditions over the years which have helped make it such a favourite. It would certainly be placed a bit higher than #43 in any 2010 rundown.

Here’s yer b-side:-

mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – Soon Go

And here’s a live performance in Wisconsin back in late 2008

Really disappointed that the new album hasn’t catapulted them to major stardom.

Thanks for all the positive feedback on the previous postings which have featured the singles released by Cinerama between 1998 and 2003.

As I’ve said previously, none of them made the singles charts but this is more an indictment on the failure of radio station producers to hear quality when put in front of them by pluggers than any other factor. Cinerama were a fabulous outfit….every bit as enjoyable as The Wedding Present….and all of their singles deserve to be better known.

Oh I say ‘were’ as if Cinerama had gone for ever. David Gedge is compering a day of music and frolics in Brighton this coming August, and there on the bill will be a very rare and welcome appearance by Cinerama…….

Anyway, today’s offering is the band’s 10th single, released in 2002. As ever, it has a quite astonishing Gedge lyric. It’s one of his infidelity stories of the one-night stand variety. And a belter of a tune:-

mp3 : Cinerama – Quick Before It Melts

Sadly, this is a single I haven’t been able to get my hands on, so the track is the extended version lifted from the LP Torino. If anyone has a copy of the singles that they would like to sell, I’d love to hear from you.

In the absence of the b-sides, here’s a Peel Sessions version to enjoy:-

mp3 : Cinerama – Quick Before It Melts (Peel Session)

Thanks.