Friday, 3 December 2021
Saturday, 27 November 2021
Thursday, 18 November 2021
Tuesday, 16 November 2021
Friday, 12 November 2021
Realize was intended to be part of Codeine’s follow-up album to Frigid Stars LP, but in 1992 there seemed to be something in the air which stopped bands from successfully recording sophomore efforts after making their names with commercially or critically successful debut albums. British rock fans of a certain musical persuasion will be able to tell you the story - like an old folk tale passed down these last 29 years - of how Blur tried and failed to record a follow up to their Top 10 debut album, Leisure, and nearly suffered a premature dissolution as well as squandering EMI’s time and budget. Well, through an odyssey of studios dotted around America’s East Coast and on a tighter budget than Blur’s, Codeine went through the same fruitlessly, abortive process thanks to a mixture of bad luck, bad decisions, perfectionism and technical incompatibility between the sounds they heard in their heads and the sounds the studios actually made. However, unlike Blur, who went back to the drawing board, resurrected the best of the content they had tried to record in 1992 and supplemented it with newly written songs to produce Modern Life is Rubbish in 1993, Codeine did have enough completed material from the sessions to put them into an EP which they titled Barely Real and which featured Realize as both its opening track and breakout single release.
With its unchanging tempo, Realize feels like a first draft idea, but what the band achieve successfully with it is to filter through the track a tangible sense of ennui and drift that, for all my carping about it, successfully draws the listener in to its unhappy mood. I can sense just how comforting the wash of John Engle’s guitar and the gentle implorations of Stephen Immerwahr’s vocal must have been to listeners who either found the weight of the world too heavy to bear most days or as implied by the line, Look at me just with your eyes were desperately, shyly trying to catch the attention of the love of their life. People needed the protection which a track like Realize offered. It would have been churlish to deny it to them back then, and equally churlish to deny it to them now.
Video courtesy of tommygunx. Lyrics are copyright of their authors.
Friday, 5 November 2021
Video courtesy of R & S Records
Saturday, 30 October 2021
Formed in 1982, Automatic Dlamini look to have been a frustrating band to have followed if you were hoping for regular material from them. Their first releases including debut album, The D is For Drum came out during 1986/87, but 5 years had passed by the time their second album, From a Diva to a Diver appeared. Not that they were inactive during that time. Harvey joined the band in 1988 and played on an unreleased album titled Here, Catch, Shouted His Father. But she left in early 1991 together with drummer, Rob Ellis, although she contributed to several tracks on From a Diva to Diver including Putty, which with its brushed drums, slide-acoustic guitar and dustbowl blues tone feels like a warm up for tracks on Dance Hall at Louse Point such as Rope Bridge Crossing. Lyrically, it has clear resonances towards the kind of music they were to make together on future projects with the sculptress of the song putting together the model of a feckless man and making cuts and slices into the clay like a voodoo sorceress. A role which Harvey seemed born to play on a future track. You can be sure that somewhere, some poor soul was experiencing a burning sensation somewhere painful as the sculptress uses fire to firm up the putty that she mutilates.
I had to take the opportunity to listen to other John Parish compositions on earlier Automatic Dlamini tracks and what struck me, from the admittedly limited sample I heard, was how Putty appeared to mark something of a departure for him from the predominant tone of Automatic Dlamini songs. In Putty, and through his future work with Harvey, he sounds like Nick Cave with songs which feel like they are set in small, dimly lit cabins in the middle of vast desert wildernesses. But with earlier tracks like Principles vs Feelings or Crazy Supper, he writes like Jarvis Cocker and sounds like Nick Heyward, by creating songs of intense but lyrical urban domestic disharmony. If ever you wanted to make a Spotify playlist titled Yuppie Kitchen Sink music, then Automatic Dlamini would need to feature on it. So, Putty represents quite a shift for Parish in the way that To Bring You My Love would be a shift for Harvey. Their artistic bond has lasted up to the present day, but ultimately, who influenced who?
Video courtesy of blackartfox