Friday, 25 January 2013

RW/FF With Ben P Scott #2

Written by Ben P Scott for God Is In The TV.

The column where Ben P Scott recommends great new music, gives his opinions on current topics and then rewinds to relive the sounds of his past. This week he is fuming at dire X Factor boyband JLS being named the UK's hardest working group, gives his thoughts on new records from New Order and The Courteeners, and recommends more top quality music. Then in the second half, he recalls his musical memories and some of the terrible chart hits from 1993...

I've never seen as much as a penny for my writing. I do it because there's great music out there that needs to be heard. So as you can understand, it's VERY annoying when the great artists who make that music are ignored by the industry in favour of the disposable guff that we see in the singles charts.

They may be the main contenders for the Useless Fuckwits Of The Year award, but are reality show boyband JLS really the hardest working group of the last year? Some clown at the PRS seems to think so. When I first read this news, I actually had to double check the article, since I couldn't believe what I had just read. JLS? Surely that's some sort of mistake? Someone is having a laugh. And worse still, they're having a laugh at the expense of the same musicians who already have to work harder to get their music heard, since the radio and TV is dominated by low quality trash like JLS.

It's a fucking insult to every hard working musician out there. You guys do more hard work in three minutes than what these useless puppets will EVER do in their lives. They got instant fame and free publicity by appearing on a karaoke show, had some bad songs written for them by other people, had all the instruments on those songs played by other people, and their vocals autotuned. They have a massive marketing department making sure they're everywhere like a bad smell. and that's hard work is it? PRS hang your heads in shame. Whatever happened to supporting MUSICIANS?

The PRS is supposed to recognise songwriters and musicians, not novelty acts from karaoke shows. They are nothing more than the public faces of a heavily marketed product, who think that singing other people's songs in a boring, generic fashion makes them "artists". Don't these manufactured acts get enough publicity as it is? Shouldn't an organisation like the PRS be rewarding and recognising creative people who don't see hard work as a chore? They write, perform and record because making music is what they love doing. JLS don't even make music. They wouldn't know how to.

Nigel Clark runs an open mic night in Pershore, and also teaches disadvantaged children the magic of music. But he is best known as the frontman of Dodgy. Made with their own money, the band's latest album (the excellent Stand Upright In A Cool Place) was recorded in Nigel's home studio and released via the tiny independent label Strikeback Records. Because of a lack of support from the mainstream press, the band promoted the album themselves via the internet, with some good friends and loyal fans also helping spread the word. This was also the case when publicising the release of the album's two singles and a limited edition northern soul-inspired 7". In 2012 they played over 50 gigs, ranging from festivals to record shops. Nigel said: "Hold the fuck on... since when were JLS a band? They are a vocal quartet at best.... If the PRS didn't pay me my royalties, I wouldve blocked them by now...". He added: "Its PRS I'm disappointed in. Making up a stupid award and then giving it to a group that isn't even a band?
Beggars belief!" 

Meanwhile Ultrasound bassist Vanessa Best commented "Lets see how they handle getting a Hammond organ in and out of their limo wherever they go! Pah!". Monika Domone said "JLS wouldn't recognise hard work if it bit them in the backside. As far as I can see, they've had everything handed to them on a silver plate."

The person or people who made this ridiculous decision should be named, shamed and forced to apologise personally to EVERY single musician in the UK, from the prolific rock stars to the street buskers. I've launched a petition for the PRS to revoke JLS's award and present it to some deserving musicians instead. But they probably won't revoke the award because admitting they were wrong will make them feel as stupid as they look. But we must all sign this petition to let these idiots know that music fans do not take kindly to the musicians we love being insulted like this. Then hopefully they won't do it again next year. The petition is HERE. Go on, sign it!

This week's edition of RW/FF was going to feature my thoughts on the current situation with HMV, but the section that i've written turned out to be longer than expected, and if I included it this week, there wouldn't have been room for most of the other material in this column, so that WILL be coming next week. I know I also said this last week, but hopefully next week we'll know more about the store's future. At the moment restructuring firm Hilco has purchased HMV’s £176m worth of debt, but is not thought to own the company yet. Though it's said that they only want to keep half of the 230 stores and perhaps sell the rest off, which would be a shame.

In some more positive news, the excellent Thought Forms have been voted winners of this week's BBC 6Music Rebel Playlist, so congratulations to Deej, Charlie and Guy. I'm chuffed about this not just because of the fact that their music is brilliant but also because me and the band are from the same little Wiltshire town of Melksham. My full review of their upcoming 'Ghost Mountain' LP will be coming soon. On the subject of voting for things, the Spiral Awards recognises all that's good in the world of folk music. Nick Burbridge has been writing and recording for many years now, and collaborated with Tim Cotterell on last year's splendid LP 'Gathered', one of the finest folk albums you're likely to hear. Listen to the album HERE (where you can also read my review) and then go HERE to vote for Nick in the Best Songwriter category. You don't have to log in or sign up for anything, just one click and you can help this UK folk legend get the recognition he deserves.

So the third week of 2013, and the UK is covered in snow. A good excuse to stay in and listen to more new music. One example being New Order's 'Lost Sirens', the mini album of tracks that didn't make 2005's 'Waiting For The Siren's Call'The mysterious and elegant 'Recoil' is superb, while the lovely 'I Got A Feeling' and a different (not to mention superior) Velvet Underground-esque version of 'I Told You So' are my two other favourites. Two slightly duff tracks and some frustratingly uninspired lyrics stop 'Lost Sirens' from being as great as it could have been. But if you combine the highlights of this mini-LP with the best moments from '...Siren's Call', you end up with a GREAT album. You can read my 3 out of 5 review of it HERE.

'Anna', the third full length from The Courteeners features some impressive indie pop. Opener In Love With A Notion is exactly how this sort of thing should be done, complete with an addictive singalong chorus, while the single 'Lose Control' provides a tasty slice of moody indie disco. These are two tunes that have been playing in my head from time to time this last week or so. But aside from a couple of other tracks, i'm not that keen on the rest of 'Anna'. And you can find out why in my review HERE. It has a song called 'Save Rosemary In Time' for a start...

Unusually named Swindon-based Nudybronque (apparently derived from nudibranch, a sea slug) make a melodic kind of indie that is developing nicely with a rather brilliant new track. 'Allsorts' is a simple, subtly romantic tune that's capable of sticking in your head for a while. Think The Crookes and Frankie And The Heartstrings with a little hint of The Smiths, gradually leading to a full throated climax towards the end. It's part of a currently unfinished EP due for release later in the year, but until then you can hear 'Allsorts' HERE.

The legendary Edwyn Collins has a new LP out soon, it's called 'Understated' and you can find more info and hear a track from it HERE. It's out in March and I will no doubt be talking about it in future columns once i've had a listen.

Something I mentioned last week that I HAVE to mention again is I Am Kloot's stunning new album 'Let It All In', where every single song is a winner. It's the sound of a band at the very top of their game, and this time I think they may have made a classic. It's also going to take them to new heights. I know I can't stop playing it, that's for sure. It's out now, so pop down to your local record shop or if you're not lucky enough to have such a thing, order it from the band's website. I also had the pleasure of speaking to Kloot frontman and songwriter John Bramwell about the album and a few other things. You can read that interview HERE.

There's another unreleased Noel Gallagher song doing the rounds on the internet. It goes by the name of 'Oh Lord', and as you'd expect from The Chief, it's a work of sheer brilliance. Listen to that one HERE.

I'm also enjoying a recent album by Dancing Suns, which was recommended to me by my friends from Ireland, Queen Elvis (who themselves have a new record out soon). I think i'll talk more about Dancing Suns next week. It's nice. As well as those I've been listening to various Fall albums from the 90's, and 'Wake Up', the 1995 album from the Boo Radleys that I still don't think is as good as 'Giant Steps' or 'Kingsize'. Plus new tracks on my mp3 playlist from Atoms For Peace, Eels, the Dirty Rivers, Foals and lots of other bands who don't work as hard as JLS.

Remember this is a weekly column, so DO come back same time, same place next week for more rants and recommendations. Now it's time for the RW part of the column where I step into my time machine... Last week I revealed my earliest musical memories and confessed the darkest musical sins of my early 90's childhood. This week I take another trip to the confession box and reveal more terrible crimes... Warning: this article contains Shaggy...

It's 1993 and i'm 8 years old. The radio is full of shite, and it's impossible to hear anything good. And if you don't hear what's good, you don't know what's good... Rather like the kids of today in fact, although not quite as bad.


Thanks to his appearance at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, I started listening to George Michael, and became keen on his 'Faith' album, which I had a vinyl copy of. Rather naff yes, but what a catchy title track, and slightly less ridiculous than the stuff he did with Wham! (whose 'Make It Big' was a vinyl LP I also owned)... A compilation tape I can't remember the title of, featuring various reggae tracks, ranging from old classics (which were awesome) to the watered down pop reggae that was briefly popular in the early 90s (which definitely was not awesome). That particular brand of fake rasta-pop must have struck a chord with me at the time though, since I was once the not-so-proud owner of a 7" copy of Chaka Demus and Pliers' awful cover of 'Twist and Shout'. Plus for one of my birthdays I actually asked for and got bought a 12" copy of Shaggy's 'Oh Carolina'... I'm so glad Britpop wasn't too far away...

Then there is a vague memory of the beginning of a turning point, not just for me but for music in general... In 1993, while my Dad was doing building work on my Auntie's old house in Southwick, Wiltshire, I was sat in his old transit van listening to a cassette of the 1993 Brit Awards, recorded from radio or TV the night before. It was then that I heard Suede for the first time, thinking it was the same group that did 'Cum On Feel The Noize'. I soon realised my error and was suddenly intrigued by this new band with this new sound. There was something freaky about them and I liked it. I also liked Peter Gabriel's 'Steam', and began listening to some of his Best Of album 'Shaking The Tree' that my Mum had just bought on CD.

But that still didn't stop me from experimenting with some seriously dodgy music during my childhood. I can remember a family holiday to Andorra and the music played during the drive, plus some of the stuff I had on my Walkman while tackling the Andorran ski slopes. The music I heard a lot of during this holiday included a tape of Erasure's greatest hits. An awful group who made appalling songs, but I suppose it was an early indication of my future fondness for electro music. 

The holiday to Andorra involved a long drive through France and I do recall some of the music that accompanied this journey.... A cassette copy of 'The Freddie Mercury Album' (which represented the very worst side of the man), 'Take That And Party' (they didn't seem so dismal to an 8 year old)... A tape of Eric Clapton's 'Journeyman'... what sort of 8 year old would listen to this? I can't remember if it was actually mine or if it belonged to my parents.


A far better option was my cassette of The Shamen's 'Boss Drum' album, which my Dad also held a fondness for, and a tape ever present on my Walkman while I attempted to ski. My Dad also claimed to have once met Mr C from The Shamen while while watching The Orb live. Then finally there was a cassette of Brian May's abysmal solo album, which probably was one of mine given my liking for Queen... 

But as I said in last week's column, all the tapes and records I owned at that point were either bought for me as presents or home-recorded copies of stuff, and the first record I actually went out and bought myself was still a while off yet. The hotel we stayed at was owned by my Auntie Susan (the same Auntie with the house in Southwick) and her husband Dave, and a great place it was too. They had a stereo system that played music in the bar, dining room and the little radios in the rooms, and all I remember hearing on it was Cher's Greatest Hits. While in the shops I can recall hearing Lenny Kravitz's 'Are You Gonna Go My Way', 'Run To You' by dance act Rage, and 'Be My Baby' by the singer Vanessa Paradis.

Also present with us on this holiday were my Dad's mate Brian Cooper and his family. Brian was the singer in a local covers band called Footloose, who played a mixture of 50's rock n roll numbers and AOR hits. One of my Dad's other close mates Paul Francis was the drummer, and was pretty damn good from what I can remember. One night in 1993 or possibly 1994, they played at the Trowbridge Rugby Club, where I ended up being invited up to sing Queen's 'I Want To Break Free' with them. Thanks to Brian, I started dreaming of one day singing in my own band and entering the world of rock n roll... But although the rest of 1993 would result in me owning more hideous records, things started to change later in the year... 

But although the rest of 1993 would result in me owning more hideous records, things started to change later in the year. Find out about that next week...

No comments:

Post a Comment