Thursday, 21 August 2014

REVIEW: Negative Lovers - 'Faster Lover' EP ( Picture In My Ear Records)


Negative Lovers are a four piece noise rock band who hail from the Indonesian city of Jakarta. The six track 'Faster Lover' EP is their second release under their current name, after formerly being known as Denial. They appear to have been influenced by a number of legendary bands (Primal Scream, Spacemen 3, Can) but add plenty of their own potent ingredients to the mixture, focusing and expanding on various ideas to brilliant effect.

Kraut-trance. Is that a sound that you're familiar with? No? Well side A of this record is something that you will need to hear. A sharp, energetic fusion of industrial psychedelia and krautrock-infused punk, 'Faster Lover' is a fresh blast of excitement that digs further into the brain with each insistent bar. The incredible Jagz Kooner remix of the track emphasises the motorik rhythms and rearranges it into a remarkable German-flavoured odyssey, while its somewhat trance-like side is explored further with the dub mix of the song that Kooner also provides.

Flip over to side B, and as well as communicating to the listener with what is described as "a voice that calls out to you from the urban shadows", they're taking you into a colourful sea of carefree surf-psych euphoria with the vibrant 'Hit And Run', hitting the senses with the trippy, driving whack and dense guitar feedback of the Mary Chain-meets-Neu! dazzler 'Last Sex', and rounding off the journey with the free jazz-shoegaze-industrial-techno fusion of Cy Spectrum's superb remix of 'Classwar'.

In terms of EPs, one of the finest things that 2014 has produced so far, an elevating explosion of psychedelic rock n roll that entrances and invigorates. Definitely not to be missed. 8.5/10




Track Of The Day: Echo And The Bunnymen - 'Explosions'

Ian McCulloch wasn't exactly understated in his promises when it came to announcing the new Echo And The Bunnymen album 'Meteorites'. "At long last we’ve made the worthy successor to ‘Crocodiles’, ‘Heaven Up Here’, ‘Porcupine’, and ‘Ocean Rain’" claimed McCulloch. "‘Meteorites’ is what Echo and the Bunnymen mean and are meant to be…up there in Heaven…untouchable, celestial, beautiful, and real…it has changed my life." Promises like this make it even more disappointing that their twelfth studio album doesn't hold a candle to 'Ocean Rain' or any of the other early Bunnymen classics. But there are a few occasions (four to be precise) when we get a few genuine glimpses of that old magic. 'Explosions' has a strident yet reflective melody that charms and satisfies, although the lyrics could have done with a little bit of fine tuning... Read my full 5/10 review HERE.



REWIND: Super Furry Animals - 'It's Not The End Of The World?'

Music formats have come and gone over the years. I was in my teens when the industry was hailing the Mini Disc as the future of listening, possibly pushed harder by desperation to distract people from MP3 players. At the time it was pretty cool though, like a cassette tape that had nearly the same sound quality as CD and that you could skip and search through rather than rewinding or fast forwarding. I would hook my mini disc player up to the TV with an audio lead and record various things from MTV 2, which was a more alternative/rock leaning sister version of the former music channel. Having been keen on the Super Furry Animals for a few years, I was excited when they announced that their 2001 album 'Rings Around The World' would also be accompanied by an animated film and played in full on the channel. So I "MD-ed" it. A form of piracy that existed in between home taping and illegal downloading, one that I'm sure all others who owned the devices must have been doing at the time. In that year after leaving college, various mundane jobs included Burger King and a few temporary shifts on dull packing/production lines. My 'Rings Around The World' MiniDisc brightened up those drab days and helped the hours fly by. I bought the CD a few weeks later. From it, here's the glorious 'It's Not The End Of The World?', a stunning number that highlights the band's gift for heart capturing moments of alluring melancholia...



Monday, 18 August 2014

Track Of The Day: Negative Lovers - 'Faster Lover' (Jagz Kooner Remix)

Kraut-trance. Is that a sound that you're familiar with? No? Well, side A of the new Negative Lovers record is something that you will need to hear. A sharp, energetic fusion of industrial psychedelia and krautrock-infused punk, 'Faster Lover' is a fresh blast of excitement that digs further into the brain with each insistent bar. The incredible Jagz Kooner remix of the track emphasises the motorik rhythms and rearranges it into a remarkable German-flavoured odyssey, while its somewhat trance-like side is explored further with the dub mix of the song that Kooner also provides.

Negative Lovers are a four piece noise rock band who hail from the Indonesian city of Jakarta. The six track 'Faster Lover' EP is their second release under their current name, after formerly being known as Denial. They appear to have been influenced by a number of legendary bands (Primal Scream, Spacemen 3, Can) but add plenty of their own potent ingredients to the mixture, focusing and expanding on various ideas to brilliant effect. 




REWIND: Prince Fari - 'Throw Away Your Gun' (12" Mix)

'Virgin Front Line - Sounds Of Reality' is a 5 CD box set, released last week on August 11. As well as excellent roots gems from The Gladiators, The Mighty Diamonds and classics from toasting legends U Roy and Big Youth, there's a number of top notch dub selections too. Highlights include The Twinkle Brothers' liberation cry 'Free Africa', Culture's 'Can’t Study The Rastaman', Poet And The Roots' 'Dread Beat An' Blood', The Abyssinians' 'Hey You', Doctor Alimantado's incredible 'Slavery Let It Go' and Jah Lloyd And The Black Lion's 'Bone Dub'. One particularly killer track is Prince Fari's outstanding 12" mix of 'Throw Away Your Gun', which extends the song to a brilliant 8 minutes. A version of the track can also be found on his 1980 album 'Showcase in a Suitcase'.

On 10th March 1978 Virgin Records launched a label that throughout the remainder of the decade would set the benchmark for Roots Reggae: Front Line. In the space of just under two years, some 46 albums and 26 singles saw issue on the iconic imprint, with its releases consistently of the highest calibre and rating among the very best music Jamaica had to offer. Front Line’s brief but glorious existence as the world’s greatest Roots Reggae label is celebrated with this deluxe box set, which across its 5 discs features many of Jamaica’s greatest talents, performing 92 of the most enduring Roots, Dub, Lovers Rock and DJ sounds of the seventies, with a third of the 31 tracks new to CD previously unissued. Also included in the package is a 52 page booklet, which opens with a typically captivating foreword from John Lydon, whose talent-scouting trip to Jamaica with Richard Branson early in 1978 was key to Virgin’s acquisition of some of the finest Reggae recordings of the era.

Peppered with fascinating imagery, including numerous previously unseen shots from the trip taken by world renowned photographer Dennis Morris, every key episode during Front Line’s brief yet glorious history is disclosed, courtesy of fascinating anecdotes from Don Letts, the label’s original manager, Jumbo Vanrenen, and its designer Brian Cooke, whose original drafts for the iconic imprint are revealed for the first time ever. As an added bonus, the set also contains four high quality reproductions of classic Front Line posters from the seventies, as well as a car sticker, based on the now impossibly rare Front Line Rockers badge from 1976. This, the most comprehensive collection of Front Line tracks ever to see issue, pays due homage to the legendary label and flawlessly illustrates just why it continues to be widely revered by Reggae fans around the world, more than 36 years after its launch.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Track Of The Day: Trucker - 'Radioactive Stars'

It didn't take long for former Babybird man Stephen Jones to follow the outstanding and immersive 'Ambition Expired' with another album. Just over a week in fact. However, this one doesn't bear his name, neither is it another instrumental set of atmospheric pieces from his Black Reindeer project. This is his latest alter-ego, Trucker. The beautifully understated 'Radioactive Stars' is pretty much the only track of its kind on 'Songs To Truck To', a spacious and euphoric electro lullaby that glows sweetly. It feels slightly out of place amongst the other pieces here, and could probably be considered relatively normal compared to what surrounds it. The remainder of the 72 minute drive provides us with some of Jones' strangest work to date, heavily electronic and themed entirely around trucking. These ideas must come from a part of his brain that other people don't have.


As well as intergalactic ambient techno, nocturnal garage grooves, warped hip hop, spacey synth ballads, and dreamy piano laments, there's the acid house trucking anthem 'I Like To Truck', and the genuinely sinister 'Something's In The Back Of My Truck' which conjures up all sorts of dark images, as well as capturing the heavy weariness of long distance overnight driving. The spoken word bit at the end is particularly exceptionally twisted. All vocals are delivered in a seedy deep Southern USA accent, highlighting Jones' ability to slip into the roles of convincing characters. Amongst many other diverse and weird things, we get the acid electronica of the spiralling 'Motherfuckingtruckerfucker' and the unsettling varispeed vocals on 'I Dream About My Truck When I'm Driving Her', describing a scene in a motel room, sticking "duct tape newspaper to the window" and keeping "a gun under my pillow, next to a picture of my third wife". It's moments like these that make you wonder if Jones leaves his windows open whilst recording the bizarre vocals and creepy spoken word segments. What must his neighbours think? Only a true maverick like Jones could create something this fucked-up and brilliant.

And just as I finish writing this article, I discover that he's already put out another release, this one a sprawling triple album entitled 'Dream Walking'. Not a Trucker album though, but a soundtrack to a forthcoming movie. Those who have stuck with him since the Babybird days are certainly reaping the rewards.





REWIND: Depeche Mode - 'I Feel You'


As of this week, there will now be two RW/FF Radio shows every Monday night. Featuring the most essential new tracks and treasures from the history of recorded music, the usual RW/FF Radio shows will continue each week at 7pm until 8pm, but will now be preceded by the new hour long RW/FF Specials at 6pm. Each week will look at a different theme, year or genre. The first show will feature music from my early years. Read about some of the stuff I used to listen to as a youngster HERE in this piece entitled 'Musical Memories from 1984 - 1993'.

For more info on RW/FF Radio, the RW/FF Specials and Melksham Town Sound, go HERE.


I was (shamefully) keen on the camp electro pop duo Erasure in the early 90s, and was surprised when I learned that Vince Clark was once a member of this dark, powerful and enigmatic group called Depeche Mode. Even though he was no longer part of the band, I still thought it was odd that two such differing styles of music could have a common connection. I remember seeing the video to 'I Feel You' being played a lot on The ITV Chart Show and MTV in 1993, and was intrigued further by this band when I realised that the majority of my Uncle Justin's CDs and records were Depeche Mode releases. But I was too young and distracted by other things to delve any further into their music, and a couple of years later Britpop and dance were what held my attention. Ironically Britpop led me back to Depeche Mode in a slightly tenuous way, when I started buying Q magazine mainly to read about Oasis, Blur, Suede and all the other British guitar greats of the mid 90s. In late 97, the magazine came with a free CD featuring 'The Best Tracks From The Best Albums Of 1997', one of which was 'Barrel Of A Gun' from the 'Ultra' album. 'It's No Good' followed, and equally impressed. A third and this time permanent spell as a Depeche Mode enthusiast began about 4 years ago when I picked up a vinyl copy of a singles compilation that collected classic material from the 80s. I've been collecting vinyl copies of their albums ever since...

Taken from the superb album 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion', this track was the band's highest-charting single worldwide.



REVIEW: Echo And The Bunnymen - 'Meteorites' (PledgeMusic)

A late review I know, but one that was written months ago and temporaily lost on a USB stick...

Ian McCulloch wasn't exactly understated in his promises when it came to announcing the new Echo And The Bunnymen album 'Meteorites'. "At long last we’ve made the worthy successor to ‘Crocodiles’, ‘Heaven Up Here’, ‘Porcupine’, and ‘Ocean Rain’" claimed McCulloch. "‘Meteorites’ is what Echo and the Bunnymen mean and are meant to be…up there in Heaven…untouchable, celestial, beautiful, and real…it has changed my life." Promises like this make it even more disappointing that their twelfth studio album doesn't hold a candle to 'Ocean Rain' or any of the other early Bunnymen classics. They've fallen into the trap of mistakenly thinking that making songs in the same style as their most acclaimed works will qualify as a "return to form", forgetting that the quality of the songs was what made those earlier records so special.


But let's concentrate on the good bits, during which we get a few genuine glimpses of that old magic, the yearning opening title track being one of two clear highlights, full of shadowy drama and despairing elegance. The other stand out comes later in the record on the superb 'Market Town', a colourful psychedelic epic loaded with sitars and big hooks. Elsewhere, 'Explosions' has a strident yet reflective melody that charms and satisfies, although the lyrics could have done with a little bit of fine tuning. 'Lovers On The Run' is a dark, dramatic sequel to 'The Killing Moon' which is actually enjoyable song, despite the fact that you can almost hear McCulloch telling us: "it sounds like the old stuff, so it's just as good!"

Undoubtedly, it would have been better for McCulloch not to compare 'Meteorites' to the magnificent 'Ocean Rain'. Sometimes approaching an album with low expectations can leave you pleasantly surprised by the positives.  Telling your fans that you've equalled your greatest moments is going to lead to disappointment when they're served with the sort of Bunnymen by-numbers found on the majority of this record. 'Holy Moses' becomes pedestrian before it's given a chance to get going, while on 'Constantinople', the excitement created by an excellent guitar hook is dampened by the song's overall lack of direction, and any claims that the likes of 'Is This A Breakdown' could equal the band's classic works are completely ludicrous.

A lot of it just sounds too slight, and doesn't really stick, 'Grapes On The Vine' being a prime example. Occasionally, the promise made by a great verse is dishonoured by a flaccid chorus (completely wasting 'Burn It Down'), and at times it sounds like a little more effort could have been made here and there. Take for example 'New Horizons', where a wonderful verse clearly deserves to be paired with a chorus that doesn't just consist completely of the two words from the title.

For a band whose early works are among the greatest albums of all time, it's a shame to hear them sounding this uninspired. It's not an awful record, just disappointing and sometimes slightly mediocre. What makes it worse is all McCulloch's talk of it being up there with his finest works. Certainly didn't do himself any favours there. 5/10




LISTEN: RW/FF Radio - 11/08/2014

New music from Damon Albarn, The Fauns, Sparks, Spoon and Wild Smiles, plus old stuff from The Levellers, The Soup Dragons, Astrid, Prince, Stevie Wonder, The Yardbirds and an end of show banger from Apollo 440.

As of this week, there will now be two RW/FF Radio shows every Monday night. Featuring the most essential new tracks and treasures from the history of recorded music, the usual RW/FF Radio shows will continue each week at 7pm until 8pm, but will now be preceded by the new hour long RW/FF Specials at 6pm. Each week will look at a different theme, year or genre. The first show will feature music from my early years. Read about some of the stuff I used to listen to as a youngster HERE in this piece entitled 'Musical Memories from 1984 - 1993'.

Ben Scott hosts RW/FF Radio every Monday night 7-8pm on Melksham Town Sound. As well as the most essential new releases, you'll hear lost treasures and classics from the past. Expect everything from indie, shoegaze, electronica, krautrock, psychedelica, funk, soul, reggae, punk, alternative, rock and much more.

For more info on RW/FF Radio, the RW/FF Specials and Melksham Town Sound, go HERE.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Track Of The Day: Childhood - 'Solemn Skies'

Childhood are a band who I've only just been made aware of during the last week. Thank god for BBC 6Music, always a great place to hear new things. The excellent (and misleadingly titled) 'Solemn Skies' is the vibrant highlight of their debut album 'Lacuna', which is available now. It's like Britpop put through psych filter, epic, elevating and magnificent. Across the album, atmospheric indie pop, shoegaze guitars and big, melodic choruses are fused with accessible electro arrangements, resulting in a varied record. However, they're definitely better at the psych thing, which accounts for the best songs here, such as the other standout 'Pay For Cool'.

At times they come across like Foals in terms of vocals and instrumentation, with the occasional dip into psych and shoegaze. As they alternate between two styles, parts of the record can often sound like two different bands, yet the tuneful appeal holds it all together.



REWIND: Mansun - 'Negative'

Fans of the legendary 90s group Mansun will be thrilled to know that a fans convention takes place in their hometown of Chester in just under a week's time on August 23. Go HERE to read an interview with organiser Andy Lyth. And if you go HERE you can read an exclusive interview that I did with frontman Paul Draper himself... Amazingly Paul is currently working on his long-awaited solo material, with plans to premiere a new track at the convention. Go to his Twitter page (link below) for updates!

While chatting with Paul a few nights ago, I decided that the awesome 1998 single 'Negative' would be the next Mansun classic to feature as a 'Rewind' track, and asked him how the song came together. "We recoded that live in studio 1 at Olympic studios London," he told me, "in the same room as Led Zeppelin and Hendrix recorded their seminal albums, the band did all the music and I came up with the melody and lyrics over the top, a real organic band collaboration on that track."


Back in 2008, Paul explained the songs lyrics in a lengthy blog post, which you can read HERE. "I'd keep a record of my daily activities in a notebook to get song ideas from. This was about the day I went for a mortgage application. 'Negative' is about taking a blood test for a mortgage application. I loved this lyric, nobody knew what it was about. Fucking hilarious being at Brixton Academy singing about a mortgage application with loads of kids in black eyeliner going ape shit, awesome! A good parallel would be Howard, the guy from the Halifax adverts, the bald bloke with the little round glasses doing a cover of it at the O2 arena as the support act for My Chemical Romance. We all got mortgages after the first album and you had to do a blood test as part of the mortgage application. It was using the word negative as a positive. It's secretly an uplifting song but sounds really dark, pretty simple really, sort of wrong foots the listener, and nobody knew. The 'I look downwards' bit was just about reading the forms, and getting the OK, all good stuff. Next time you listen to it just imagine a giant blue X in a big field somewhere from a helicopter. This song should definitely be the new Halifax advert with Howard singing it on the top of a hill somewhere being filmed from a chopper. Quite apt in these credit crunch tinged times..."

It was recorded and produced by Draper and Mark 'Spike' Stent during sessions for the group's astonishing second studio album 'Six'. The song was released as the album's third single in 1998, peaking at #27 on the UK Singles Chart, breaking the group's run of seven consecutive top twenty singles.




The Mansun Convention will take place on Saturday August 23rd 2014 and will celebrate the 
legacy of Mansun, once hailed as the most thrilling live rock band in the country, whose number one debut album ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’ was followed by the innovative ‘Six’, and who still have an incredibly dedicated fan base despite the band’s split over ten years ago.

Over 500 fans from across the globe will be attending the event, which will be held in the band’s hometown of Chester, at The Live Rooms; the city’s newest and largest independent live music and club venue. Several special guests have been invited to speak at the event, including The Guardian’s Paul Lester and former EMI commissioner Matt Davey, who will be introducing the first play of a Paul Draper solo track. Many renowned musicians have contributed to the event including Ryan Needham (Menace Beach), James Brown (Pulled Apart By Horses) and Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) and the event programme features content from respected music journalists discussing their appreciation of the band including myself Ben P Scott, NME’s Mark Beaumont, Damien Jonez, Paul Lester,Simon Price, John Robb, Tom Pinnock and more.


The full itinerary for the convention can be read here http://ymlp.com/zNrjmJ which includes Q & A sessions discussing the band, displays of the bands instruments, never before seen photographs of the band from the EMI archive, live music, unseen archive video footage and the first airing of unreleased tracks from the sessions for the number 1 album 'Attack of the Grey Lantern'.

Ronnie Stone, the bands studio engineer has kept all of the daily sessions from the recording of Mansun's debut album and will be selecting some highlights and rarities from the hours of audio he has, to play exclusively for attendees of the fan Convention. About the tracks he says "I think hearing the fun element in these earlier sessions is important. I remember taking some tapes in to play EMI and they were astonished at what they described as '6 tracks and 5 hit singles in one session'"


Two teaser compilations of the exclusive audio can be heard on soundcloud.com at the 
following links:


Convention organiser Andy Lyth says “this is an incredible discovery for Mansun fans –
listening to this will change the way fans enjoy Attack of the Grey Lantern. We’re all looking 
forward to hearing Ronnie’s stories about recording such a seminal album”.

The convention will also be raising money for CLIC Sargent http://www.clicsargent.org.uk
supporting children with cancer, as many items of personal band memorabilia have been 
donated by members of Mansun which will be auctioned off in support of the charity.

For more information go to the Mansun Convention website at 



Friday, 15 August 2014

Track Of The Day: Ziguri - 'Bella Hopp'

From the city of Berlin, here is a superb tune to end your week with. Fusing Afrobeat and Krautrock flavours, Ziguri's thunderous 'Bella Hopp' has a sound that's not a million miles from what a Fela Kuti and Can collision might have sounded like, hypnotically rhythmic and driven by a forward momentum that presses forward with menacing urgency. It's from their VERY long-awaited debut album 'Kölsch, Schickert, Erdenreich'. Amazingly, you can get 'Bella Hopp' as a FREE download by going HEREZiguri are a band comprising Krautrock legend Günter Schickert, Udo Erdenreich and Dieter Kölsch. The press release reads: "Active from 1987 to 1997, they reformed in 2011 and now, some 27 years later to be exact, present us with their first album. The music: hypnotic trance/Motorik/psychic rock-driving, monotonous beats and bass lines, overlain by floating patterns from Schickert’s inimitable Echodrive guitar." To read more about Ziguri and their history, go HERE



REWIND: The Chemical Brothers - 'Under The Influence'

Today's Friday Banger is one from one of my favourite dance acts of all time, and the duo who had the biggest initial impact on me during my youth. I am of course referring to The Chemical Brothers. The rampant, hyperactive thud of 'Under the Influence' evokes the spirit of classic acid house brilliantly, and could have easily been a it had they released it as a single. In some ways, it was. Technically, it was the first piece of music to be released from their superb 1999 album 'Surrender', a 12" vinyl of the song being issued in June 1998 as 'Electronic Battle Weapon 3', exclusively for DJs to test in clubs. According to Ed Simons, he and Tom Rowlands had "about two weeks" to sort out an album cover, plan a live show, and carry out endless promotional duties in Japan. At one point, the image that was later used as the cover for the 'Out of Control' single was intended to be the album cover. The duo have recently confirmed that they are "in the studio", which HOPEFULLY means a new album is on the way!

If you're big on your dance music, floorfillers and club bangers, tune into Dance Class with Jason B every Monday night from 8pm-9pm, following RW/FF Radio on Melksham Town Sound. More info can be found HERE.



REVIEW: Tape Waves - 'Let You Go' (Bleeding Gold Records)

A sun kissed swoon of an album all the way from the calm beaches of South Carolina, 'Let You Go' is the debut from dream pop duo Tape Waves. At 32 minutes long, it features ten chilled out, melodic moments which charm the listener while bathing them in sunshine.

Tape Waves are a duo consisting of husband and wife Jarod Weldin and Kim Weldin, who have been releasing music since 2013. Following on from the debut 'Tape Waves' EP, they issued a lovely 7" single in May 2014, which features 'Stay All Night' and the sensational 'Looking At The Sun', which is (in my opinion) their finest track, yet not included here. Whether you're looking for a bright, calming soundtrack for the beach or something to relax with on a summer's night, it's well worth immersing yourself within the mixture of gentle drums, hazy harmonies and beautiful guitars that can be heard across this debut LP.


An atmospheric ray of light and a cooling breeze open the record in the form of the easy going 'Slow Days', a sparkling stand out that sets the tone nicely. Shimmering guitars illuminate the delicate 'All I Can See', a bright love song that's short, straight forward, and very sweet indeed. Following the melancholic title track and the intricate notes of 'Ready Now', the gorgeous, harmonious instrumental 'Beach Front' provides a thoroughly blissful moment and one of the best tracks here. After the Cure-esque melodies of 'Another Day', an effective sense of simplicity shines through on 'Whetever I Go' along with its handclaps and angelic vocals. Another highlight arrives with the pretty chiming notes and distant echoes of hazy, reverbed voice that flow through the wonderful 'Looking Around', before the intertwining guitars and heartfelt delivery of the beautiful 'Stay All Night' make for another lovely standout. Summing up the record's slightly overfocused sound, 'I Can Tell' bears more than a passing resemblance to the other songs, and has a chorus that is almost identical to the earlier 'All I Can See', although the track does end the album nicely with an endearing, subtly layered outro.

Very little in the way of contrast may prevent much of 'Let You Go' to sound that memorable on the first play, but give it a few plays, let it sink in gently, and see how you feel afterwards. It could do with a little bit more diversity as a whole, but you can't say that it isn't tidy and cohesive. The lack of variety is a relatively minor flaw when the best tracks are as enchanting as these. Each song is like an extension to the overall mood of the album, sitting together nicely. It's a picturesque record full of sun drenched vibes, and definitely one for these hotter months. 7.5/10

'Let You Go' is available to buy on limited edition Mint/Orange swirl-coloured vinyl from HERE.






Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Track Of The Day: Levellers ft. Frank Turner - 'Julie'


The Levellers are without a doubt one of the greatest and most powerful bands of the last 30 years. Hugely influential musically, the folk-punk legends celebrate 25 years on the music scene with the release of a new 'Greatest Hits' collection. In support of the album, the band will embark on a UK tour with support from the brilliant She Makes War, and ska legends The Selector. Out on September 29, the album will be available as a 2CD/DVD package, which will bring all the Levellers’ singles and videos together on one album for the first time. If you pre-order the album from HERE, you get your copy signed by the band. And for an incredible price, you can also download a 148 TRACK deluxe digital edition of the album, which also features B sides, rarities, remixes and cover versions. And if you know the Levellers like I do, you will also know that many of those rare tracks are classics in their own right.

An interview that I did with frontman Mark Chadwick last week will be coming to these pages very soon, but in the meantime have a listen to this powerful reworking of the band's incredible 1993 hit 'Julie', where they are joined by none other than Frank Turner, an artist who regards the Levellers as a massive influence. A press release describes it as "bringing us back full circle for another generation of the disenfranchised to discover the Levellers for the first time." 
Weirdly enough, the first time I ever saw Frank playing live was when he was supporting the band at a Bristol gig back in 2008 or 2009, and was one of about 12 lucky people in the small assembled crowd...


NOV 11 Nottingham Rock City
NOV 12 Bristol o2 Academy
NOV 13 London o2 Shepherds Bush Empire
NOV 14 Birmingham o2 Academy o2 Academy
NOV 15 Norwich UEA
NOV 16 Portsmouth Guildhall
NOV 18 Wrexham William Aston Hall
NOV 19 Newcastle o2 Academy
NOV 20 Sheffield o2 Academy
NOV 21 Glasgow o2 ABC
NOV 22 Manchester Academy


REWIND: The Rolling Stones - 'Route 66'

The Rolling Stones make their first ever 'Rewind' appearance. The first music of theirs that I ever purchased was a cassette single of their cover version of Bob Dylan's 'Like A Rolling Stone', from the 1995 album 'Stripped'. I can remember finding it on the 'Reduced' shelf in WH Smith. When their 'Forty Licks' best of compilation was released in 2002, I got myself a CD copy and played it pretty much non-stop for days. I had officially been converted. When I found a bargain-priced double LP copy of a compilation featuring their output from the 60s to late 70s, I discovered that 60s music ALWAYS sounds better and more authentic on vinyl. From that LP, here is their raucous, no-nonsense take on the rhythm and blues standard 'Route 66', which was originally composed in 1946 by Bobby Troup.



Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Track Of The Day: The Fall - 'Fibre Book Troll'


A brand new track from The Fall, which is exclusive to Modeselektor's 'Modeselektion Vol. 3' compilation, released in June on Monkeytown Records. A fine and weirdly diverse collection of songs it is too. My CD copy finally arrived the other day, all the way from Germany. Driven by a relentless bass riff that is rammed home over 6 and a half bizarre minutes, 'Fibre Book Troll' has the potential to be a classic Fall track, but comes across as pretty slack in this initial 'Original version' of the song. The first 2 minutes or so could have easily been cut. The usually tight rhythm section lack conviction, the synths are all over the place, and the track comes across as some sort of studio rehearsal of the song rather than a final product. It doesn't really get going until Pete Greenway's guitars enter the frame and Mark E Smith's extraordinary delivery takes the insane factor up a few levels. 

It sounds like three or four different recordings mashed together like some kind of Frankenstein's monster, but gains strength as it runs on. As usual, it's great fun trying to decipher the lyrics: so far, amongst other things I can make out Smith trying to buy an apple for ten cents, his views on Facebook trouble makers, the recurrent "I get no help" line, and something about eating sandwiches. As it grows, it becomes stronger, tighter and brutally commanding. We're told that a new Fall LP is on the way, following on from last year's excellent 'Re-Mit'. 'Fibre Book Troll' is enough to remind you of why a new Fall album is always worth looking forward to.



REWIND: Martha Reeves And The Vandellas - 'Nowhere To Run'

A few hours ago, I logged into my Twitter account and learned that the world had lost another legend. Comedy icon Robin Williams has died aged 63 in what is an apprent suicide. Bitterly ironic that a man who spent his whole life making the world laugh was suffering from severe and crippling depression. It's like he sacrified his own happiness and wellbeing just to make the world a brighter place. I will never forget his ball-of-energy performance in 'Good Morning Vietnam', one of my favourite films of all-time. The film's incredible soundtrack of 60s-era hits is also one of the very best, and today I will be playing that absolutely essential soundtrack album in honour of the legendary Williams. The film was the first place that I heard this soul classic by Martha Reeves And The Vandellas, and to this day every time I hear this song, I imagine it being introduced by Adrian Chronauer, the larger-than-life radio DJ that Robin portrayed so perfectly. 




Like I said, 'Good Morning Vietnam' has one of the finest soundtracks you'll ever set ears on. If you haven't experienced its brilliance yet, here...

After this sad news, let's cheer ourselves up by laughing at some idiots. Because Robin would have definitely found these funny...



Comedian Jason Manford has posted a thought-provoking tribute to Williams in the form of this appeal: "If you feel alone and down, anxious and low. If you feel deep sadness but can't find a root cause. If people tell you to 'snap out of it' or 'things can only get better' or 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger', know that it's simply not always true. Sometimes it does kill you. 

Please seek help. No one will think you're being melodramatic, I swear. No one will think you're silly or wasting people's time. No one will say 'what? But you're always so happy, maybe you're just having a bad day'. For some people, every day is a bad day and they get through it, but sometimes they stop getting through it. 

If depression can (allegedly) kill Robin Williams, one of the world's greatest funny men, well it can get any of us at any time. If the Genie from Aladdin can suffer and the DJ in Good Morning Vietnam can be affected by it, then so can you, or your child or friend or work colleague.

I always remind myself of the quote from Watchmen:

"Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says, "Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go see him. That should pick you up." Man bursts into tears. Says, "But doctor... I am Pagliacci."

Please. Ask for help. If you have no one or if you don't want to to tell them yet, then ring Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 for someone to talk to, or talk to your GP.

The world needs you even if you don't think it does. I promise, we need you here, now."