Thursday, 26 November 2020
Saturday, 21 November 2020
Saturday, 14 November 2020
Thursday, 12 November 2020
By request of The Jukebox Rebel and supplied by the ever generous Keeping It Peel, I’m delighted to be able to post an additional, much desired track from the BFBS show of 18/10/92 in which I, Ludicrous tell us all about how they smashed it out of the park supporting The Fall on an odyssey which took them around such rock ‘n’ roll hotbeds as Bradford, Nottingham, Reading - albeit out of festival season - and Cambridge. Along the way they discover that cash doesn’t stay in hand very long but that by the end of the tour, they’ve grown to relish their status as the“second best band around.”
Video courtesy of Webbie
Tuesday, 10 November 2020
I live my life by several different creedos. Arguably, the one which gives me most pleasure when I’m able to do it guiltlessly is, “Life’s great! I’ve got somewhere to sit, I’ve got something to drink and other people are doing things.” So this is one of the rare occasions in which I can claim to know precisely how John Peel felt when he related how much he and his BFBS producer were enjoying watching a triathlon on television while they recorded the programme. “It’s quite reassuring sitting here with a cup of tea and a sandwich watching them running and cycling and swimming, because they do need to sort of feel superior so they can point at people and say, ‘Well at least I look better than that bloke sitting in the corner’ and I’m happy to be that bloke sat in the corner. It’s a public service really.”
The programme featured a lot of cover versions and older records, as you’ll see if you read through most of the selections I made from the show. One of the covers which didn’t make my cut was Gallon Drunk’s version of Ruby originally recorded by Silver Apples. Peel had been an enthusiastic supporter of Gallon Drunk up to this point, but admitted that he was starting to go off them, “Their moves toward Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are not something I enthuse about...I’m sure their career prospects will lie in ashes as a result.” However, this appears to have been a passing disenchantment. I’m currently listening to Peel shows from February 1993 as part of prepping selections alongside Equus by Peter Shaffer and he’s been enthusiastically championing tracks from their From the Heart of Town album.
From my original selections, there was 1 choice I couldn’t share and 2 which fell from favour. I would have liked to share:
I, Ludicrous - Bloody Proud - Taken from their album, Idiots Savants, this is a wonderfully entertaining account of their adventures while supporting The Fall on a tour, something they would have the pleasure of doing on a number of occasions. Peel received a letter from his friend, Robert Lawson who was based in Taiwan, but was occasionally to be found, “...buying me Indian meals in London.” Lawson asked Peel what he thought of the I, Ludicrous album, but Peel was in such a hurry to play something from it, he didn’t venture an opinion. (UPDATE - The track can now be heard on the blog.)
As for the two tracks which fell from favour:
The Groove Corporation - Hypnotherapy - played by Peel because “I always like to have something relaxing to play you near the start of the programme to get you in the late night mood. Of course, it may not be late night where you are...” Unfortunately, when I listened to this a few times, it went from relaxing to soporific. A shame.
Jimmy Reed - I Know It’s a Sin - Now I said at the start of this post that myself and Peel appeared to be of one mind when it came to relaxing with a cup of tea and letting others get on with doing stuff. However, the realisation I came to while listening to I Know It’s a Sin, recorded by Reed in 1959, would have had Peel cursing me as someone who shouldn’t even share a planet with him, let alone a mindset. And yet, I’m afraid it cannot be avoided. Come closer so I can whisper it to you. But I learnt the undeniable fact: all Jimmy Reed songs sound the same. And once you’ve learnt that, it cannot be unlearnt.
Before the next edition of John Peel’s Music, Peel reported that he would be undertaking some driving around mainland Europe over the course of the next week and that he hoped to meet up with the Austrian folk-music/hip-hop duo, Attwenger. As we would discover, it did not go well...
Wednesday, 4 November 2020
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Curve - I Feel Love/The Jesus and Mary Chain - Little Red Rooster (18 October 1992)
Two more selections taken from the NME’s 40th anniversary compilation celebration album, Ruby Trax. Peel also played The Wedding Present’s version of Cumberland Gap from the same album, on this programme.
I don’t know whether the bands who participated made their own choices or whether the NME sent out specific requests over which artist should cover which track, but in 1992 the idea of Toni Halliday, lead singer of Curve, ethereally cooing Donna Summer’s game-changing, colossal 1977 hit, I Feel Love would have been like something out of Central Casting. Possibly only Marina Van-Rooy could have come close to sparking the same amount of endorphin/pheremonic aural release among the album’s core male target audience. Or at least that would have been the case had I known about any of this in 1992. When the idea was floated of Curve covering the track, I’m sure it was high-fives and Charlie all round. What’s more, unlike the ultra-faithful cover of The Model by Ride, which Peel played the week before, Curve do attempt to stamp some of their own musical identity on the track with synth effects that sound like someone machine-gunning a hail of ping-pong balls on a corrugated roof as well as what I can best describe as a shoegaze cloud that passes over the track like a cloudburst in waiting - ominously poised but never quite ready to unload. Nevertheless, the band realise that even with Halliday on vocals, the whole enterprise will be sunk unless they incorporate that unforgettable Moog synthesiser line as the foundation stone of the whole thing. And rightfully so, after all that synth line wasn’t just the foundation for I Feel Love, but effectively for modern dance music itself, which in 1992, was still firmly in hock to the offcuts from Giorgio Moroder’s ideas.
On the face of it, to hear The Jesus and Mary Chain produce a Delta blues, sludge-rock version of Howlin’ Wolf’s Little Red Rooster after hearing Curve’s version of I Feel Love may feel like the epitome of landing in the muddy swamp after being caressed by an angel in Heaven, but there’s less to separate them than might otherwise be imagined. I’ve seen two readings floated about Little Red Rooster. The title character represents either an enforcer figure within the context of the farmyard (and Sam Cooke’s slinky take from 1963 feels like a template for Trouble Man, 13 years early) or it’s a sex song. The Rolling Stones saw their UK Number 1 single version of Little Red Rooster banned from American radio stations in 1964 as it was felt that the lyrics were sexually suggestive. It was absurd, especially given that the feel of the Stones’s version was that of a late night cruise around looking for sex, but Mick Jagger sounded as though he knew deep down that he’d have fruitless night traipsing around and failing to find action.
But with the Jesus and Mary Chain, the cock of the walk is getting his rocks off in no uncertain terms. The bassline sounds like a headboard slowly but rhythmically banging against a wall. Everything’s smothered in fuzztone: vocals, bass, guitar which rumbles and ruts away like a groaning lover under the relentless thump of the bass headboard. You can feel the sweat on the naked bodies as the East Kilbride boys succeed in conjuring up the feel of an endless, erotic Georgia coupling. It’s a real grower of a version, possibly the best one I’ve heard for unleashing the pent-up sexuality of the track which, with no trace of irony, culminates in a feedback orgasm.
So Love and Sex in music form, but who’d have guessed that it would be Jim and William Reid bringing the latter....
Videos courtesy of opalstardream (Curve) and lagustatu (Jesus and Mary Chain)