Friday, 26 April 2013

RW/FF With Ben P Scott #15

This week: Record Store Day turns out brilliantly, and I check out some great live music from James, Echo And The Bunnymen, and Jordan Whatley. Plus Edwyn Collins, The Fall, the Manics, Deej Dhariwal, Six By Seven, Frank Turner, Black Reindeer, Olympian and the Levellers. Then in the second half of the column, my memories of hearing 'Definitely Maybe' for the first time.

So Record Store Day was jolly good fun. I first participated in 2010 to get my hands on the Blur single 'Fools Day' and have been taking part in the event every year since at the Raves From The Grave shop in Frome. That same retailer has opened up a new shop in Bath (which I wrote an article about HERE) so this year I decided to go there and witness the first ever Record Store Day to take place in the city. I'd been up all night watching news coverage of the Boston manhunt and a huge earthquake in China while doing frantic last minute tasks in preparation for the morning, like cutting out CD sleeves for our GIIITV compilation 'Treasure Hunt' which were to be stocked at Raves. You can now listen to our exclusive compilation online HERE.

After a night with zero hours sleep, vinyl enthusiast and dance music expert Jason B was at my place for 6am. We set off for Bath and pleasingly missed out on any heavy traffic, arriving at the shop at some point before 7am. At this point we were the 3rd and 4th people there, and a few minutes later there were five of us in the queue. Soon there were about 9, a mixture of male and female, and mostly under 30 rather than a line full of balding men wallowing in nostalgia. The staff arrived at 8am to make the final preparations and prepared themselves for the ensuing chaos. A short while later shop manager Reuben emerged and ventured off to an outlet down the road to fetch free tea and coffee for the entire queue. Then afterwards we were all treated to bacon rolls as well. Now that's how to take care of your customers. 9.38am and with 22 minutes until opening time, there are exactly 22 in the queue. Reuben is still outside talking music with people in the line, and before he knows it, it's already 10am and time to open the doors. 


As everyone piles in, I go straight for the box of 7" singles, since I know the main releases I'm interested in are mostly in there. Being on a VERY limited budget means I can only pick one item to go home with, and in a way it makes that one record all the more special. With the small shop crammed with people, everyone seemed to be as considerate and respectful towards one another as possible, no pushing and shoving or fighting over who's next in line. And at half ten there are still people queued up outside waiting to get in. I decide that the excellent 'What Are You Doing, Fool?' by Edwyn Collins And The Heartbreaks is going to be my choice before discovering a third room at the back of the shop that I didn't realise was there on my previous visit, with more vinyl, a hi fi system and a kettle. All customers are treated like friends: "feel free to put some music on... help yourself to tea and coffee... make yourselves at home". What a fantastic place. 


BBC reporter Will Walder is here interviewing customers, one of which turns out to be producer Chris Hughes, also a member of Adam And The Ants. Walder also talks to renowned producer and solo artist Ethan Johns, who is at the shop for an instore gig on the tiniest stage you'll ever see. After the initial madness, the place is still busy when Carousels And Limousines frontman Sam Gotley plays a well received acoustic set and the excitement and enthusiasm is still in the air. 



We can only really stay for a while, due to having to get back to the pay and display car park but I'd spend most of the day here if I could. The important thing is that I continue to visit this shop and the other Raves outlets, so there'll be many more hours spent in these shops throughout the next year and beyond. I'm very pleased with my purchase, one of only 500 copies. You can hear that excellent Edwyn Collins And The Heartbreaks single HERE. Jason B filmed some video documentation of the day, up until his battery ran flat, and took many photos as well. I've compiled a collection of these pictures along with some I took, and you can look at those HERE. Our short Record Store Day 2013 film can be seen HERE. I was thrilled to hear that across the country it turned out to be the most successful RSD yet. Long may it continue to thrive and grow each year. 


Because we weren't able to stick around for Ethan Johns in the afternoon, I decided to make a rare visit to the pub at the end of my road for some live music from Jordan Whatley, and excellent he was too. A 17 year old singer songwriter and vinyl enthusiast, Whatley's voice and acoustic guitar are accompanied by a percussionist, with the music often taking on a folk sound with a hint of rock n roll angst and tastes of his diverse influences. As well as a few typical covers for the benefit of the pub goers, he previews a number of tracks from his upcoming debut solo album, which he recorded recently in just four hours. Listen to some of his music HERE at his Facebook page.


Exactly four nights before, I had been at the Colston Hall in Bristol. It’s not often that you get to see a double bill quite like this. Two legendary bands touring the UK together both with rich backgrounds and fantastic reputations. Needless to say, it’s bound to be a great night when Echo And The Bunnymen are on the bill, but for James to be following them is something you wouldn’t want to miss out on. In a set lasting around 45 minutes, Echo And The Bunnymen proudly show off vintage numbers from a sparkling back catalogue, and I could have happily listened to them all night. Ian McCulloch reveals that it’s the first time they’ve played at the Colston Hall since 1982. The smoke and stage lighting often make the band’s age so invisible that what the crowd are witnessing could just as easily be an 80′s Bunnymen gig. Especially since all but one song are all from over 24 years ago. Plus there’s the fact that you can’t really make out any of the group except for original members McCulloch and Will Sergeant. And even though he isn’t always clearly visible, Mac still maintains that commanding presence. It’s down to the voice, his static cool, these massively influential songs and the passionate way in which they are delivered. Best support act I’ve ever seen? I think so.


James are one of those bands who have so much great material, that they will never have time to play all of their classics in one night. Tonight we get a mixture of the hits, rarely played fan favourites, more recent numbers, and a few brand new songs to bring things up to date. They remark that this is “an intelligent crowd” who are taking in the music and not going mad from start to finish like the “ones in Glasgow and Sheffield”, perhaps because there are very few people under 25 here, or perhaps because the bar here charges too much for some people to become too merry. Of course it could be because the crowd are captured by the performance in a way that transfixes their attention purely on the music. So it’s an ideal audience for James to preview the new material to, the third new track being the possible future single ‘Moving On’. They certainly seem more enthusiastic about trying out new things than they are about playing the obligatory ‘Sit Down’, which sounds like a group running through a song because they have to rather than because they want to. As a result of a heavier and slightly slower arrangement, ‘Sometimes’ lacks energy and seems to lose part of its charm, but there’s no faulting a properly rousing ‘Laid’ which sees the crowd at their liveliest and rounds off the evening superbly.

So one or two slightly flat bits, and lots of great songs they didn’t have time for, but it’s impossible to complain about a James gig like this one. Add to that a genuinely top notch support act, and disappointment is well and truly off the agenda. Both bands continue the tour throughout the UK, and I strongly advise getting a ticket. Read my full live review HERE.


I'm very pleased that Six By Seven are returning. The band are set to release a new album on the 10th June 2013 Listen to the epic 9 minute track, ‘Truce’ from the album HERE. Two more new tracks can also be heard at their Soundcloud page HERE. They released their first album, 'The Things We Make' to rave reviews in 1998. Five Peel Sessions followed, an appearance on ‘Later With Jools Holland’ and much touring. The band gained a strong underground following, and released four more albums. They have split up twice in the past, but this time they seem to be re-invigorated and hungry. "It’s a new start by a band that refuses to lie down and stop rocking" says the press release, and they're not kidding. This time round the band is boosted by the addition of ex-Placebo man Steve Hewitt on drums. Producer Dan Austin (Massive Attack, Doves, Biffy Clyro) recorded 9 tracks with the band at the legendary Moles studio in Bath, making up the brand new LP entitled 'Love And Peace And Sympathy'. A UK tour follows in July, dates HERE. The group led by Chris Olley have also started a 'singles club' on their website, where fans are able to "buy very limited edition vinyl style CD's". They've added two songs as a free download to get started, so now is a good time to become a member and grab some free music. Olley said "I'm hoping to make these singles look great and collectible, and will number and sign each edition."


This week saw the release of the debut full length solo release by Thought Forms guitarist Deej Dhariwal. 'Still Connecting' is released on the Lava Thief label, and there are 100 CD's with handmade acetate/card packaging available as well as a digital download. You can listen and buy the record HERE. It can often be quite an intense experience. At various points during the 22 minute 'Kaide' it feels like being hit by a train, attacked by swarms of murderous birds and narrowly missed by a low flying aeroplane. During the second half, melody appears, summoning a bleak and beautiful ambience. Overall, 'Still Connecting' is testament to what one man can do with lots of guitar pedals and a thriving creative imagination. 

It's good to hear new music from the Manic Street Preachers, who are currently working on a new LP, their first since 2010's 'Postcards From A Young Man'. The band recorded an instrumental track for BBC Wales, which was played throughout the day on the station last Friday. 'See It Like Sutherland' is an interesting piece that maintains that unmistakeable emotion while hinting at a far less bombastic approach than that of the previous album. You can listen to the new track HERE. Listen to three brand new tracks from The Fall HERE. 'Sir William Wray', 'Hittite Man' and 'Jetplane' were released for Record Store Day, and slightly different versions will be included on the forthcoming LP 'Re-Mit', out Nay 13th. Mark E Smith is a fucking legend. 



Frank Turner's fifth solo LP 'Tape Deck Heart' hits the shops this week. I hope it proves to be his biggest hit yet. This time round, he's turned the lyrical focus on to himself, making for his most introspective effort yet. Described as a "break-up album", 'Tape Deck Heart' was written and recorded following the collapse of a long-term romantic relationship. Turner stated: "There’s a lot of stuff on this record about loss and failure in relationships, about what happens when something that was supposed to be timeless runs out of time." The single 'Recovery' is ridiculously catchy, 'Plain Sailing Weather' is brilliantly angsty, 'Anymore' is heartbreaking, and 'Four Simple Words' is a massively enjoyable celebration of punk rock and Frank's way of life. After only a few listens, I already like it more than the previous two LPs, although 2008's magnificent 'Love Ire And Song' is probably still my favourite Turner album overall. You can listen to 'Tape Deck Heart' HERE via Spotify. 


Somehow managing to win fans from across all of the punk, indie and folk scenes, The Levellers are a lot more successful than what some people remember. In the 90′s they had more gold and platinum selling albums than any other UK act during that decade. They still hold the record for the largest stagefront crowd at Glastonbury. But more importantly, they’re still making excellent music and playing top class live shows. 

The band are releasing a digital EP on May 5th, the lead track being a new version of the upbeat yet poignant ‘The Recruiting Sergeant’ from their rather great 2012 album ‘Static On The Airwaves’. It’s described as “an anti-war song not an anti soldier song” and you can watch the video HERE. It’s backed with a live version of the powerfully emotive ‘Another Man’s Cause’, and a storming 1989 recording of ‘Barrel Of A Gun’, which perfectly captures the group’s raw energy. Another old track ‘Not In My Name’ continues the anti-war theme along with the original uncensored album version of ‘The Recruiting Sergeant’. All profits from the release of the War Child version of The Recruiting Sergeant will be donated to War Child, the charity for children affected by war and set up to protect children living in the world’s most dangerous war zones.


Black Reindeer, aka Stephen Jones (ex Babybird) is preparing ANOTHER album for release soon, the 6th in about six months I think. As a taster for the new LP, he has released the disturbing 'Rise Of The Superstar DJ' as a free MP3 at his Bandcamp page HERE.


Olympian's debut EP 'Back To The Great Lakes' was released a few weeks ago on April 1st. Olympian is the latest musical project from Manchester-based singer-songwriter Aron Robinson. He describes the EP as being "a very personal record that deals with loss and not wanting to let go but learning that you have to". Olympian have gained fans including I Am Kloot’s John Bramwell (who actually recommended them to me a few months ago) and Damon Gough (Badly Drawn Boy). The group now seem destined to co-habit the musical arena that Bramwell’s own band and Elbow have successfully made their mark on, albeit, in the case of Olympian, the listener is presented with a much more introspective kind of grandeur. Personally I think they have more in common with The National and the more grandiose moments of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. Olympian's Facebook page is HERE, and you can listen to three tracks from the EP at their Soundcloud page HERE.

After pausing to remember record shops of old last week, this week I continue my memories of 1995. what a year...


It was March 1995. I had been listening to Blur's 'Parklife' constantly, along with the Oasis single 'Whatever' and Suede's 'New Generation'. My Auntie Julie and Uncle Justin were both fans of these bands too, and Julie owned a copy of the debut Oasis album 'Definitely Maybe'. Along with my Mum, my younger brother, Justin and Julie, I came along to visit my Auntie Karen and Uncle Phil, who lived in Barnsley with my three cousins. This involved a long car journey during which my 'Parklife' tape became a singalong road soundtrack, but we also had to listen to one of Justin's tedious M People albums along the way. He always did have a varied taste. But when Julie put on 'Definitely Maybe', hearing those songs for the first time was too exciting to put into words. It blew my mind and confirmed that this band were something truly special. 

When we eventually got to Barnsley, the first thing I did was purchase a blank tape so Julie could record a copy of it for me. There are lots of things I remember about that week, like my Uncle Phil trying to convince me that Sting's solo stuff was good, and a birthday party disco for Karen and Phil's birthday, where I heard Green Day's 'Basket Case' for the first time. I can remember hearing Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' album being played a lot that week, and also recall visiting a Barnsley record shop and finding an interesting item in their bargain bin; a CD copy of the Sparks single 'When I Kiss You (I Hear Charlie Parker Playing)'. Considering I hadn't heard the song, it was a very random purchase for a ten year old to make. That week and the car journey that preceded it will always have a place in my memory, perhaps because life changed after hearing 'Definitely Maybe'. After Blur had won all the Brit awards that year, to a certain extent, Oasis were in their shadow, but after hearing that debut album I just knew they'd become extraordinarily huge. Next week I remember that moment that took place exactly 18 years ago this week; the day I went out and bought the Oasis single 'Some Might Say'... 

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