Splash FM Website of the Day, 1st August 2005. Be Impressed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Owada – Nothing

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Thanks to WFMU’s ever wonderful Beware of the Blog you can now download the second strangest record of 1997.

Owada are the brainchild of 2001 Turner Prize winning artist Martin Creed. Fresh from the runaway success of pieces such as Work No.79 (which was a small lump of Blu-Tack stuck to a wall) and Work No.88 (a crumpled up piece of paper) Creed decided to enter the world of pop music and make an album about nothing – a concept upon which Oasis have based their entire output. The lyrics stretch from a list of the numbers up to four all the way to a list of the numbers from 101 to 200 (read the full lyrics here) which give the record the feel of an episode of Sesame Street presented by Bearsuit.

Creed created his most famous piece, Work No.200, in 1998 by filling various rooms with balloons. He went on to win the Turner Prize with Work No.227: The lights going on and off which, funnily enough, featured the lights in a room going on and off every 5 seconds. See the stunning pictures here.

Download all of Nothing on WFMU’s Beware of the Blog

Visit martincreed.com

Monday, October 24, 2005

Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Volume 1.

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Shortly before the death of John Peel last year came the less widely reported death of Dave Godin. Even though he wasn’t as famous as Peel his influence was huge. He is one of the main reasons that soul music, despite being neglected for many years in its homeland, is kept alive in the UK.

I wouldn’t usually cover reissues on here but the release of Deep Soul Treasures Volume 1 in 1997 is too big to ignore. Unlike most compilations they were put together with a reckless disregard for commercial potential. The artists are largely wilfully obscure (Zerben R Hicks anyone?) to the extent that even Godin knows little or nothing about some of them. Nevertheless, thanks to Godin impeccable taste, idiosyncratic liner notes and the extraordinarily intense songs, the albums began to sell and picked up a large cult following.

Godin was a bit of an all-round nutcase. He was an anarchist, a vegetarian, a Jainist, a believer in Wilhelm Reich’s loopy orgone theory (which also found supporters in Patty Smith, Frank Zappa and, most famously, Kate Bush) and he once compared David Blunkett to Stalin. All this, as well as him looking like an anaemic geography supply teacher, made him an unlikely champion of the music of black America. But he was obsessed with soul music to the exclusion of all other genres – once he even claimed he couldn’t name a single member of The Beatles. This dedication lead to him becoming the leading authority and taste maker of soul music in Britain through his writing, his advice to record companies and his own record labels devoted to releasing rare soul records in the UK. He is also credited as being creator of the terms ‘Northern Soul’ and ‘Deep Soul’.

But it is the Deep Soul Treasures series that represent Godin’s life’s work; he even referred to them as being his babies. Deep Soul is a subgenre of soul which is gritty, intensely emotional and uncompromising. Musically it is usually, although not exclusively, slow in tempo and heavily influenced by the blues and gospel. Godin, in his unique style, says, “Deep Soul strives to help us understand what our heads alone cannot always accommodate, and delineates the vicissitudes of the human heart as it searches for what it so desperately yearns for, and what it fears it may never find or secure.” The genre reached its peak in the late sixties and was shamefully killed off with the rise of disco in the 70’s.

Jaibi’s You Got Me was Godin's favourite record of all time and it’s not difficult to hear why. He wrote of this song, “You Got Me is a Deep Soul side of almost indescribable beauty and poignancy. Mannered, stylised, and with a cascading and vertiginous unfolding, it is, quite simply, the ultimate expression of what Deep Soul music is all about at its most stunning and majestic, with a mood that is both ambivalent and mysterious, and an atmosphere that is suffused with all that is good and worthwhile about being human, and being capable of love for other human beings.” I think that means he likes it.

Keep the faith – right on now!

Jaibi – You Got Me

Buy Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Volume 1

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Festive Fifty #1: Cornershop – Brimful of Asha.

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Ho, ho, ho. Merry John Peel Day one and all. What a joy it was for me to wake this morning to see my kids gathered around the John Peel tree excitedly tearing open their John Peel presents and singing John Peel carols at the wrong speed. With my belly full to bursting with John Peel cake, here’s the Festive 50 number one from 1997.

Peel had been a fan of Cornershop for many years before their breakthrough single Brimful of Asha and he selected them to headline the Meltdown festival when he was its curator in 1998. Cornershop’s Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayers were both present at Peel’s funeral last year.

Cornershop were initially dismissed by many in the music press and with the amateurishness of their early records you can see their point. It didn’t help that they garnered more attention for their feud with Morrissey - which culminated in them burning pictures of him outside his record label’s offices - than they did for their music. Luckily, they grew into their music and by the time of 1997’s When I Was Born for the 7th Time their blend of tuneful indie-pop and Indian sounds had been perfected and they were heading for the charts.

However, it was not until Fat Boy Slim’s speeded up, gimmick packed remix of Brimful of Asha was released in 1998 that they hit the top of the singles chart. I’ve uploaded the original version.

Cornershop – Brimful of Asha

Buy When I Was Born for the 7th Time

Festive Fifty #4: Period Pains – Spice Girls (Who Do You Think You Are?)

After the technical foul ups of the last couple of days I thought I best offer you another track. And a damn good one it is too.

Period Pains were a bunch of bratty, 14 year old posh girls with a 'butter wouldn’t melt' look and a way with a good punk tune. They also had a sense of humour about their public school life giving songs titles like Daddy, I Want a Pony and Anarchy in the Abbey. There’s no doubt they had a way with words e.g. on the song Anorexia is Sexier:

Come on now grls don't tell fibs
You wish that we could see your ribs
If you want to lose that baby bounce
Regurgitate and shed that ounce

Although you would have thought that all those school fees would have meant they knew the difference between anorexia and bulimia.

This track originally appeared on the amusingly named, but inaccurate on at least one count, Virgin Megastars. The album doesn’t seem to be available any more – shame.

Period Pains – Spice Girls (Who Do You Think You Are?)

Buy BBC Sessions

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Festive Fifty #5: Belle and Sebastian – Lazy Line Painter Jane.

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For a bunch of nose-bleeding bed-wetters Belle and Sebastian got off to a surprisingly aggressive start in their career. In 1996 they formed, were signed by Jeepster and released two albums (the eBay favourite Tigermilk and If You’re Feeling Sinister).

They didn’t let up much on the pace in 1997 releasing a series of EPs. Without doubt the best track on these was Lazy Line Painter Jane (now available on the Push Barman to Open Old Wounds compilation). The song showcases an echo-y surf guitar and the voice of Monica Queen (the lead singer of THRUM who had been described as sounding like ‘Tammy Wynette with a hard on’).All that and educational too (I didn’t know you could get thrush from licking railings).

No track again I’m afraid – more techy problems. Double bugger, bugger it sideways and one more bugger for the hotel room.

Buy Push Barman to Open Old Wounds

Read all the 1997 Peel sessions.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Festive Fifty #17: The Fall – I’m A Mummy.

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1997 was a year of flux for The Fall i.e. business as usual.

All curmudgeonly Fall main man Mark E Smith’s skills of conciliation had been unable to prevent the departure at the end of 1996 of Brix ‘Ex-Mrs Mark E Smith’ Smith and in-out-in-out drummer Karl Burns. Despite this Smith cobbled together a new band and no fewer than 10 Fall albums were released in 1997: 7 live albums, two reissues and Levitate from which today’s track comes.

The next bust up occurred with Levitate producer Simon Spencer. He was replaced by Jason Barron who, according to The Fall website, ‘cut his teeth on records by Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan & Rick Astley’. Well, I suppose trying to eat the records is less painful than trying to listen to them.

1997 also saw Mark E Smith hook up with Damon Gough to write the song Calender. Apparently, at the end of one drunken night Smith mistook His Badly Draw-ness for a taxi driver – as opposed to the pissed-up hobo most people mistake him for.

A new band was put together in August ’97 to tour the album and to record their 24th Peel session including the return – again - of Karl Burns. This line-up lasted all of eight months until April ’98 when an onstage brawl resulted in the departure of three members and a night in jail for Smith on assault charges.

Unfortunately, there’s no track today – technical problems. Bugger.

Buy Levitate

Monday, October 10, 2005

Festive Fifty #22: Bis – Sweet Shop Avengerz.

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Bis provide a stern warning on the dangers of finding pop stardom too young. Once spunky teenagers, now jaded, world weary, mid-twenty-ites lumbered with the names John Disco, Sci-Fi Steven and Manda Rin.

Bis were formed in 1994 and rapidly graduated from their bedrooms to playing around the Glasgow scene and, after a couple of EP releases, secured their first Peel session in 1995. They were then hyped in the way only the British inkies know how. They even became the first unsigned band to appear on Top of the Pops. Unsurprisingly, a fierce bidding war began and after a protracted bout of handbags and hair-pulling the band signed to Wiiija Records.

By the time they released New Transistor Heroes the UK was already mightily sick of them. Luckily, their bratty punk-pop was guaranteed to make them big in Japan (or at least big in comparison to the Japanese). This resulted in what they will be remembered for: the closing theme to The Powerpuff Girls.

Bis – Sweet Shop Avengerz.

Buy New Transistor Heroes

Play the John Peel sweet game

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Festive Fifty #37: The Verve – Sonnet.

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Richard Ashcroft can be held at least partially responsible for the significant rise in the number of people being barged over in the street by blokes singing anthemic rock songs that occurred in 1997.

It’s something of a miracle that Urban Hymns ever got made at all. The relationship between founding members Richard Ashcroft and guitarist Nick McCabe was particularly fractious. The band first split in 1994 up after a disastrous stint on Lollapolooza left Ashcroft in hospital and drummer Peter Salisbury in jail. They got back together long enough to record 1995’s A Northern Soul and managed to stay together for three months before Ashcroft left after a series of rows with McCabe.

Ashcroft reformed the band but was, initially, unable to convince McCabe to rejoin. He eventually relented and the group recorded their masterpiece and, as it turned out, swansong. The feud between Ashcroft and McCabe quickly resurfaced and no amount of success could stop McCabe quitting the band for good in 1998. The group limped on with BJ Cole on guitar but eventually split once and for all in 1999.

I’m not sure why Sonnet is singled out for inclusion in the Festive Fifty as it is far from the strongest track on the album. I also don’t remember Peel ever playing a Verve track but I wait to be corrected.

If you want a literate overview of The Verve’s career – firstly, what the hell are you doing here? - then read Hannah’s post.

The Verve – Sonnet

Buy Urban Hymns.

John Peel: Festive 50 1997.

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As 1997 was slap bang in the middle of my student days, I spent many a night listening to Peel (rather than learning something about economics) and many a grant check on the music he played (rather than the world famous floozies of Nottingham). Some of his fans were even more prestigious than me. In 1997 the newly crowned Prime Minister Tony Blair called him "truly a radio legend". Peel later refused to meet him.

In the run up to John Peel Day I will, rather unimaginatively, be posting selected entries in 1997’s Festive Fifty. A particularly poor tribute since Peel himself always hated doing the Festive Fifty (the tracks were predictable and not unrepresentative of the show's scope) and he often threatened to stop. This may be why in 1997 he didn’t bother playing numbers fifty to thirty two. The full list with the tracks I’ll be posting in bold:

1. Cornershop - Brimful Of Asha
2. Mogwai - New Paths To Helicon
3. Helen Love - Does Your Heart Go Boom
4. Period Pains - Spice Girls Who Do You Think You Are
5. Belle & Sebastian - Lazy Line Painter Jane
6. Novak - Rapunzel
7. The Fall - Inch
8. Daft Punk - Rollin' & Scratchin'
9. Clinic - IPC Subeditors Dictate Our Youth
10. David Holmes - Don't Die Just Yet
11. Blur - Song 2
12. Belle & Sebastian - Dog On Wheels
13. Hydroplane - We Crossed the Atlantic
14. Stereolab & Nurse with Wound - Simple Headphone Mind
15. Bette Davis & the Balconettes - Shergar
16. Arab Strap - Hey Fever
17. The Fall - I'm A Mummy
18. Spiritualised - Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
19. AC Acoustics - I Messiah Am Jailer
20. Stereolab - Fluorescences
21. Hitchers - Strachan
22. Bis - Sweet Shop Avengerz
23. Secret Goldfish - Dandelion Milk Summer
24. Prolapse - Autocade
25. Dreamcity Film Club - If I Die, I Die
26. Stereolab - Miss Modular
27. Delgados - Pull The Wires From The Wall
28. Propellerheads - Velvet Pants
29. Hybirds - Seventeen
30. Prolapse - Slash/Oblique
31. Angelica - Teenage Girl Crush
32. Junior Reid - Mashing Up the Earth
33. Stony Sleep - She Had Me
34. Ash - A Life Less Ordinary
35. DJ Hype - Peace Love and Unity
36. Blur - Beetlebum
37. Verve – Sonnet
38. Panecea - Stormbringer
39. Velodrome 2000 - Charity Shopping
40. Vynil Junkie - Can't Forget
41. Idlewild - Chandilier
42. Cuff - Evapourate
43. Starkey Banton - Symposium
44. Ivor Cutler - Goosie
45. Underworld - Moaner
46 Cornershop - Sleep on the Left Side
47 Pulp - help the aged
49 Velocette - get yourself together
50 Propellerheads - take california

As a more fitting tribute here’s Ronnie Ronalde played at the wrong speed:

Ronnie Ronalde – Mocking Bird Hill (33 1/3 at 78)

Read a Peel interview from 1997.

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Other Radio News

I recently found out that my new favourite radio station, Splash FM, made this blog ‘Website of the Day’ at the beginning of August. If anyone was in the Worthing area on 1st August and listening to Simon Osborne at 8:50am, I’d love to know what was said about what will henceforth be know as ‘The Internationally Famous in Worthing, Shoreham and Lancing We Love 1997’ (or TIFIWSALWL97 for short).

Also, WL97 is now one year old.