Sunday, 31 March 2013

COMPILATIONS: Ben P Scott's Best Of Bowie - Parts 1 to 6 - listen


People who know me well will probably be aware of my fondness for making compilations and mixtapes. You may also know that I am a huge fan of David Bowie. A while ago I published an article called What Bowie Means To Me, which you can read HERE. In the article, as well as worshipping at the altar of my idol, I explained how all the many ‘Best Of’ collections sound hugely incomplete in the context of his diverse and prolific career. 

So as we continue to bathe in the glory of his new LP, it's also a good time to revisit his glorious and world-changing past. Now I reveal my own carefully chosen SIX PART Bowie compilation. 

You can listen to all six parts of my compilation below via the Mixcloud players. Enjoy.



01 - Floating In A Most Peculiar Way: Bowie 1964-1971
We start with the early work, which is often overlooked. But it’s usually overlooked for a reason: the man hadn’t yet discovered his own voice, and the quality of his pre-‘Space Oddity’ material mostly paled compared to his later work.  

First up is 1964′s ‘Liza Jane’ which marks Bowie’s first ever appearance on record, under the name Davie Jones with the King Bees. The Rolling Stones were shaking things up at the time, and it’s clear to see that a 17 year old David Jones wanted a piece of that action, creating a raw RnB infused adaptation of an old rockabilly number. A year later, and after releasing a flop single with The Manish Boys, he returns as David Bowie And The Lower Third with a Who-esque single ‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’, which proved as unsuccessful as his early works. 1966 saw the first single credited solely to ‘David Bowie’ in the form of ‘Do Anything You Say’. But I’m going to go for its B Side ‘Good Morning Girl’, an intriguing oddity with an upbeat be bop rhythm. The scat singing in particular is most uncharacteristic of Bowie’s familiar style.

Bowie’s self titled debut album was released in 1967 and displayed something of an identity crisis. His manager Ken Pitt was keen to mould Bowie into a Tommy Steele-esque all round entertainer, but the songs also mixed the theatrical style of Anthony Newley and the 60′s pop sounds of The Kinks. But more interestingly, the album contains brief hints of topics that were to become familiar Bowie subjects in years to come: ‘We Are Hungry Men’ imagined a world where the population turns to cannibalism, ‘There Is A Happy Land’ played with the idea that children were existing in some sort of separate society from adults, and my choice pick ‘She’s Got Medals’ addresses gender bending. Despite its quaint charm, the album isn't considered by a lot of people as a “proper” Bowie record, but over the years its grown on me in a big way. Driven by acoustic guitar and recorded in the wake of the debut album’s commercial failure, ‘Let Me Sleep Beside You’ was the first track he created with Tony Visconti on production duties. It was recorded as a proposed single, but it was rejected by Deram and didn’t see the light of day until it appeared on a 1970 compilation.

1969′s ‘Space Oddity’ is where the familiar story begins. The accompanying album of the same name was definitely an improvement on the 1967 debut, moving into folk territory and displaying Bowie’s newfound gift for progressive songwriting. But sometimes it can be a bit over-complicated, and at times the tunes just aren't strong enough. I’ve picked the classic title track, and the stunning ‘Memory Of A Free Festival’, which celebrates as well as encapsulates the author’s disillusionment with flower power and the peace and love generation. Next was 1970′s ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, an album which pretty much invented the term ‘glam rock’. The riffs were harder, the choruses more infectious, and the lyrics seemed to take a darker and noticeably introspective turn. I’ve chosen the LP’s magnificent opener ‘Width Of A Circle’, the enjoyable breeze of ‘Black Country Rock’, and the classic title track. 1971′s ‘Hunky Dory’ is often regarded as Bowie’s first classic album, and what a record it is. The incredible ‘Life On Mars’ was recently voted the UK’s favourite song of all time, and ‘Queen Bitch’ feeds off of The Velvet Underground to create what a lot of people consider to be the first ever appearance of Ziggy Stardust. Closing the album, ‘The Bewlay Brothers’ combined sweeping melodrama and (some say) lyrics about David’s schizophrenic half-brother, Terry. ‘Hunky Dory’ was one hell of an album, and Bowie’s next LP was to make him an eternal legend…






02 - Loose and Hard To Swallow: Bowie 1972-1975
‘Five Years’ is the powerful opener from the legendary 1972 LP ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’, quite rightly regarded as one of the finest records ever made. ‘Moonage Daydream’ is testament to this, a song that defines the word ‘electrifying’. The no-nonsense kick of ‘Suffragette City’ and melodramatic closer ‘Rock N Roll Suicide’ round off a classic selection of tracks from a solid album. 1973′s ‘Aladdin Sane’ used the glam rock sound to frame a collection of soul, jazz and doo wop influences collected from the States, its lively opener ‘Watch That Man’ a fine example. As well as the sleazy crunch of the brilliant ‘Cracked Actor’, I’ve also featured the familiar hard strutting blues of ‘The Jean Genie’. A year on he returned with the hard rocking paranoid visions of ‘Diamond Dogs’ which as well as its addictive title track, also contains the classic but conspicuously out of place ‘Rebel Rebel’. As well as these, I’ve picked the superb ‘Sweet Thing’, elegantly hinting at the soul music he’d explore future on his next effort. It’s only right to feature the full album version along with its coda ‘Candidate’ and the following reprise. Rounding off this volume of the compilation we have the joyous Philadelphia sound of ‘Young Americans’, along with the blissful ‘Win’ and the awesome ‘Fame’, a song so funky that James Brown ordered his band to deliberately imitate it for his single ‘Hot (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved)’. In these four short years Bowie had already explored more styles than most artists do in their entire careers. And explore he would continue to do…





03 - Electric Blue: Bowie 1976-1979

Part 3 is entitled Electric Blue, and is as good as any hour of music could possibly be. Kicking off with the stunning mini opus that is the title track from Station To Station, we also get two more from that incredible record before a selection of songs from the monumentally influential 'Low' and the remarkable '"Heroes"'. Three highlights from 1979's underrated 'Lodger' complete a magnificent CD profiling what is often considered as Bowie's creative peak.





04 - An Axe To Break The Ice: Bowie 1980-1992
There's only one way you can go after a creative peak, and that's towards an artistic decline. 'Scary Monsters' was Bowie's first album of the 80's, providing more classic game-changing singles, and for 1983's 'Let's Dance' we saw the arrival of Bowie the tanned, sharp suited pop star. But as the 80's rolled on he was becoming uninspired, releasing poor albums like the dire 'Tonight' and 1987's ironically titled 'Never Let Me Down'. Bowie himself realised that his career had reached a low, and failure made him reinvent his vision once more, which he did by forming a hard rock band called Tin Machine.





05 - Hundred Miles To Hell: Bowie 1993-1999
The 90's were a much better time for Bowie. The new bands seemed to have built their sound on his, the classic albums were being reissued, and more importantly he had regained his creative mojo. 1995's 'Outside' was his finest work since the 70's, a sprawling concept record that divided the public with a daring, experimental approach, but it was dividing the listeners that was part of the genius. This music was always going to gain a lot more than just a mediocre reaction, for sure Bowie never did "average".





06 - As Long As There's Fire: Bowie 2000-2013
The 2000's were the decade that Bowie settled into his role as an elder statesman of rock, but never allowed himself to become irrelevant. Always moving forward while keeping the past in mind, he seemed to be unstoppable before a stroke in 2004 forced him to take a well-earned break. His prolongued absence served to make his 2013 return one of history's most remarkable comebacks, as 'The Next Day' thrilled critics and the legions of fans who made it his most successful album in many years. 











Friday, 29 March 2013

RW/FF With Ben P Scott #11



This week: the inspirational new LP from Edwyn Collins, and news of a new record shop opening in Bath this weekend. Plus I start the countdown to Record Store Day and check out some great live music courtesy of Thought Forms, Hell Death Fury and Terrapin. Plus THAT historic moment when Noel Gallagher joined forces with Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon, as well as a few other interesting musical bits from Primal Scream, Misty's Big Adventure and more...

'Understated' is an apt title for an album by a man like Edwyn Collins, for his influence on indie music is exactly that. But in 2005 his life was shattered after suffering multiple brain haemorrhages, a trauma that many people don't bounce back from. It was a relief that he survived the tragedy, and just knowing that he was still with us was a blessing. While the man may have lived to see another day, many people assumed that we would probably never hear the musician again. But Edwyn Collins doesn't give up that easily. And here we are eight years later listening to his new album, his second since his return to doing what he loves most. 

For 2010's 'Losing Sleep', a range of high profile collaborated were enlisted to help their hero get back on track after the major setback he suffered, and after re-acquainting himself with music again, this latest album sees him take centre stage. 

Opener 'Dilemma' kicks things off with smart horns and a simple yet massively infectious tune, while the strutting 'Baby Jean' tells of how his art has kept him going. But not once does he sound like a man playing for sympathy or feeling sorry for himself, as the truly buoyant northern soul stomper 'Too Bad (That's Sad)' demonstrates, a classic break up song put to the most uplifting of musical settings.


Some of the wit and lyrical sharpness of his pre-2005 material may have been blunted, but in its place are honest autobiographical reflections, and a newfound sense of perspective, while the determination and sincerity powering his performance is nothing short of awe inspiring. 'Forsooth' grows from a soft Velvet Underground-like melody into a wonderfully underplayed gospel chorus. Because music has given him so much, he's giving himself to the music and can be heard truly singing from the heart. When he sings "I'm so happy to be alive", you can tell that he means it. The thrilling 'In The Now' sees him celebrating survival with a defiant energy, pleased to be not only "living and breathing" but also "working", while the fantastic title track provides another catchy direct hit.

'Understated' is more than just another step to recovery, it is indeed a fine record in its own right, and utterly life-affirming. It's also perhaps the ultimate testament to the healing power of music. He lost the ability to read, write, and lost movement in half of his body, but what he didn't lose was his gift for coming up with an ear-catching tune, as is proved here. It will make you smile, it may even make you cry, and its an album that reminds you how good it is to be alive. Go HERE to read my full review. 

Record Store Day is nearly here. April 20th sees the UK's finest music retailers filling their shelves with ultra-limited releases from a massive range of artists and labels. A full list can be found HEREIn the run up to the event, God Is In The TV will be running various features, including profiles of our favourite shops, previews of some of this year's RSD releases, my very own RSD2013 mixtape, and lots of other articles celebrating the magic of the record shop. We will also soon be announcing something VERY special that we have in store. Or should I say in STORES... News of that coming very soon. 

Raves From The Grave in Frome is a shop I've mentioned before, and how could I not? For the last three years I've been up at the crack of dawn to queue outside for Record Store Day. The Frome shop has been going strong since 1997, and over the last few years they've expanded to a second shop in Warminster, a store rich in glorious vinyl old and new. In fact they've got a whole basement dedicated to it, as well as an impressive selection on the main floor. Nearby Bath has been crying out for a good music retailer since the much-missed Replay closed a few years ago, so Raves opened up a small pop-up shop in the city. It's proved such a hit that this weekend (Saturday 30th March) their new permanent store opens full time. Run by passionate and well-informed music fanatics, they set their standards very high and take immense pride in what they do. While other shops have been closing down at a frightening rate, Raves has not only managed to survive, but also thrive and expand. Their prices are excellent, their range of music extensive, and they well and truly embody the spirit of independence. They do things their own way, and can easily adapt to the needs of every customer. So if you're in the South West (or even if you're not) then come on over to Bath tomorrow for the launch. More details can be found HERE on their website. In a few weeks time all three of their shops will be taking part in Record Store Day. It's times like these that I LOVE living in this part of the country

A charity gig at The Kings Arms in Melksham took place last weekend (Sat 23rd March) featuring headliners Thought Forms, Hell Death Fury, Terrapin and a covers group called The Regaling, who offer something a great deal more refreshing than the average covers band. It would be lazy to describe Terrapin's sound as Radiohead-esque, but there's certainly no ignoring Thom Yorke's influence on the vocal style of frontman Luke Bailey, who seems to be growing in confidence as a performer. But copycats they're not, in fact they have a diverse range of influences that add interesting dimensions to the music, while their rhythm section are more than capable of pulling out the grooves. Post-rock funk? Perhaps. They even managed to impress during some technical troubles, improvising to hold the sound together nicely. Admittedly they are still a work in progress, but their ability and some of their material promise big things for the future. There are a lot of ideas, and when they find a way to gel them all together, I can see big things happening for them. Their Soundcloud page is HERE


Hell Death Fury are another group from my hometown, and in my opinion one of the best that have ever roamed these streets. A mixture of ska, metal and a tiny hint of dubstep, their rip roaring tunes are bashed out with boundless energy. Co-frontman Bean (aka Paul Walton) is a man of many talents. A skilled guitarist and saxophonist, he also has one of the best, most ear splitting screams you will ever hear. When I spoke to him afterwards, he was complaining of a sore throat. Why doesn't that surprise me? The insanely catchy 'Green Lane' is an awesome moment that concerns someone losing their sanity after doing too many drugs and being carted off to the local loonie bin. Sample lyric "you're paranoid as fuck, a schizo soon, they sectioned you, you're a certified loon...". Their adaption of the Technohead classic 'I Wanna Be A Hippy' is something that could probably jolt life into even the most static of crowds. Their 2010 debut album 'Free Porn' can be heard HERE. It's good job I provided this link, since a Google search would undoubtedly deliver results that may end up distracting your minds elsewhere... 


Topping the bill were the mighty Thought Forms, who treated this triumphant homecoming as the perfect excuse to have a few drinks in celebration of their recent success. A lot of groups can be sloppy after consuming a few pints, but this brilliantly dynamic three piece were absolutely fierce. 'Sans Soleil' provided blissful soundscapes and some truly explosive drum work, while the expansive atmospherics of 'Burn Me Clean' could easily soundtrack the apocalypse. Go HERE to read my recent review of their 'Ghost Mountain' LP, one of this year's finest albums so far. After the venue closed, me and my good friend Jason B (who also took these accompanying photos) joined various members of the bands for an unplanned aftershow gathering, which went on into the early hours of the morning. I had a few drinks too, something which happens VERY rarely these days. Although I don't become out of control, I'm well aware that I ramble on a LOT. So apologies to those who had to tolerate it. 

So who would have ever thought it? Noel Gallagher sharing a stage with someone who he once wished "would catch AIDS and die" and another member of his fiercest Britpop-era rivals. Yes, it was the historic moment when Noel joined forces with Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon for a joyous rendition of Blur's classic 'Tender'. And with Weller on drums too. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it. Did that REALLY happen? The stuff dreams are made of. That magic moment can be seen HERE. The only war that seems to be going on these days is the ongoing feud between Noel and his younger sibling, who not only berated him for playing with "Blue", but also for "sipping champagne with a war criminal" in the 90's. I have to admit, that last bit WAS funny. But it wasn't Noel who embarrassed himself with a piss poor performance at the Olympics Closing concert before posing for pictures with the fucking Spice Girls afterwards. Liam, you're a legend. But you certainly can be an idiot at times. 

Primal Scream's recent comeback single '2013' was a superb step back into action, and a brilliant taster for their upcoming 'More Light' LP. A wildly diverse group, their new track 'It's All Right' is somewhat reminiscent of 'Screamadelica''s joyous gospel house, promising interesting things for the forthcoming album. Listen to it HERE

Depeche Mode's new LP 'Delta Machine' is in shops this week. It's fair to say that initially it sounds like Depeche Mode being Depeche Mode, although noticeably it does have more of a punch than the last few albums. I still haven't had a chance to listen to it more than a couple of times, but that's something else I'll be playing more over the next few days, so no doubt I'll be reporting back on that in next week's column.


Misty's Big Adventure are a band who have been brought to my attention via their highly enjoyable new single 'Aggression', a bouncy slice of ska with a brilliant video that seems to sum up British nightlife in a nutshell. Featuring brawls in takeaways and tattooed women you wouldn't want to mess with, that video can be seen HERE. The single is out this week. In other news, Daft Punk have confirmed that their new album 'Random Access Memories' will be released on May 21st. Looking forward to that. The hotly tipped Peace have their debut album 'In Love' out this week. I've yet to hear it, but may investigate over the next few days. 


As 1994 turned into 1995, something exciting was coming to life within the music world as Blur and Oasis were beginning to shake things up in a massive way. By this point, aged ten I had become a fan of both bands, although I wasn't ignoring the other stuff in the charts. Back then, there seemed to be something for everyone. It's why I argue that the 90's was the best decade of all time, since it had absolutely everything. Just have a look at the singles chart back in 1995. There was the phenomenon of indie going overground, a time when the alternative was becoming a huge part of the mainstream. There was also electronica, american rock, trip hop, cheesy euro-dance, as well as the AOR acts, rap groups and weak boybands. There was so much to choose from. The radio also seemed to reflect this, even the local station GWR was playing a varied mixture of stuff. Well varied compared to the horror that the station descended into a few years later before being bought out by the ghastly Heart FM. Radio One had a bigger playlist and would play stuff that GWR's presenters wouldn't have been aware of. So even though the radio reception was weaker for Radio 1, and the presenters seemed to talk a lot more, it became my station of choice. However, I still settled for GWR whenever I couldn't get a good R1 reception, because in 1995 it didn't sound that bad to me. 

As I've mentioned in previous columns, my Dad managed a club in Corsham, where the DJs at the time would play a mixture of dance hits, club mixes of pop songs and house music.

Of course this made me think of how cool it would be to get paid for playing records, and yes I did indeed want to be a DJ one day. But what sort of a DJ was I going to be? I had a major love for classic and alternative music but the sound of the clubs was beginning to make an impression on me. My dad had also developed a fondness for dance music, perhaps it was from running a club or perhaps it was his way of showing that his age didn't mean he was entirely out of touch. Of course sometimes he was a bit: he was impressed by a mixtape that included a ridiculous amalgamation of The Grid's 'Swamp Thing' and George Formby's 'When I'm Cleaning Windows'. At this time I myself was (for some unknown reason) impressed by this as well, perhaps because I thought the songs on the tape had all been mixed by the club's resident DJ. But after hearing the Grid/Formby mash-up on the radio, I realised that this was not the case.


I'd discovered Blur the year before, and now in February 1995 the band sensationally swept the board at that year's memorable Brit Awards. You could feel the excitement everywhere, and there was a sense that this group had set a new standard. It felt like this was how things were going to be from then on. It was too good NOT for it to stay that way. Well, that's how it felt at the time anyway. The day after the Brits, the band were household names as well as critic's favourites, and became part of the British culture that had inspired 'Parklife'. I had a recorded copy of it on tape, but this was undoubtedly THE album of the time. So essential that I NEEDED to own a proper copy, and indeed I did end up owning one, purchased on cassette from WH Smith's in Swindon. From what I can remember I also bought the Simple Minds single 'She's A River', which I probably got because I might have had a pound left after buying Parklife. I can't think of why else I would have bought it at the time, since I didn't have a clue who Simple Minds were.

I was lucky enough to be around as Britpop was on its way to becoming the most phenomenal musical movement in years. As a ten year old kid, it seemed even more thrilling to me. And it all happened at just the right time to influence my life in a massive way...

Thursday, 28 March 2013

REVIEW: Edwyn Collins - Understated (AED Records)

'Understated' is an apt title for an album by a man like Edwyn Collins, for his influence is exactly that. People often talk about how bands like The Smiths and The Stone Roses inspired generations of indie groups, but Orange Juice were also very much pivotal in their own way. Collins was the singer of this group, and after their split embarked on a solo career that produced a number of incredible albums. 

But in 2005 his life was shattered after suffering multiple brain haemorrhages, a trauma that many people don't bounce back from. It was a relief that he survived the tragedy, and just knowing that he was still with us was a blessing. While the man may have lived to see another day, many people assumed that we would probably never hear the musician again. But Edwyn Collins doesn't give up that easily. And here we are eight years later listening to his new album, his second since his return to doing what he loves most. Edwyn's recovery has been partly been the result of his sheer determination to carry on making brilliant music, something which helped him rebuild his life, and in many ways his thoughts.

For 2010's 'Losing Sleep', a range of high profile collaborated were enlisted to help their hero get back on track after the major setback he suffered, and after re-acquainting himself with music again, this latest album sees him take centre stage. It's perhaps his most personal record as well, several tracks reflecting on the events of his life in a most powerful and open way. It won't be long until you're singing along to the choruses, or maybe you won't be singing along because you'll want to concentrate on the power of that voice.

Opener 'Dilemna' kicks things off with smart horns and a simple yet massively infectious tune, while the strutting 'Baby Jean' tells of how his art has kept him going. The lively 'Carry On, Carry On' is a joyful piece of Motown-infused soul that doesn't take for granted the simple pleasures in life, and elsewhere songs like the poignant, bruised 'Down The Line' push his vocal abilities to the limit. "Just understand I've lost some ground" he sings, highlighting the fact that he's not trying to hide anything from the listener. While some tracks openly deal with his struggle, others look back to his youth and his early days as a musician, in fact the humbly touching '31 Years' does both. But not once does he sound like a man playing for sympathy or feeling sorry for himself, as the truly buoyant northern soul stomper 'Too Bad (That's Sad)' demonstrates, a classic break up song put to the most uplifting of musical settings.


Some of the wit and lyrical sharpness of his pre-2005 material may have been blunted, but in its place are honest autobiographical reflections, and a newfound sense of perspective, while the determination and sincerity powering his performance is nothing short of awe inspiring. 'Forsooth' grows from a soft Velvet Underground-like melody into a wonderfully underplayed gospel chorus. Because music has given him so much, he's giving himself to the music and can be heard truly singing from the heart. When he sings "I'm so happy to be alive", you can tell that he means it. The thrilling 'In The Now' sees him celebrating survival with a defiant energy, pleased to be not only "living and breathing" but also "working", while the fantastic title track provides another catchy direct hit.



'Understated' is more than just another step to recovery, it is indeed a fine record in its own right, and utterly life-affirming. It's also perhaps the ultimate testament to the healing power of music. He lost the ability to read, write, and lost movement in half of his body, but what he didn't lose was his gift for coming up with an ear-catching tune, as is proved here. It will make you smile, it may even make you cry, and its an album that reminds you how good it is to be alive. 4 out of 5

Listen to the album in full HERE
And then buy a copy HERE

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

SONG FOR TODAY: The Sundays - Here's Where The Story Ends

I love BBC 6Music. What an awesome station. Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie's afternoon show is a cracker, a hugely entertaining listen. 

And they've just played this classic by The Sundays. What a wonderful song. 

Ruined by a shitty cover version in the 90's, it's only right that everyone hears this song at least once in their lifetime...


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

SONG FOR TODAY: The Hosts - September Rain

'September Song' is the glorious debut single from The Hosts, and it's a song that will quickly find its way into your head and heart. While it has the feel of reflective sound of stuff from the late 90's post-Britpop era, it very much harks back to the romance of 60's pop, and was written on the 50th anniversary of Buddy Holly's death. With its strong melodies and heartfelt melancholy, it's a truly captivating introduction to what sounds like a massively promising group. It's produced by Richard Hawley, who himself has a great ear for this kind of marvellous sound. People NEED to hear it...


‘September Song’ is about a love affair with music and how a melody can transport you back to a time, a place and the autumn of a relationship. A nostalgia complimented perfectly by the b-side cover of Roy Orbison’s ‘In Dreams’.

The Hosts make a unique sound. Straddling the yesteryear romance of the aforementioned Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly, in a hazy soundscape recalling Phil Spector, The Velvet Underground and The Beach Boys, layered with percussion and a sharp vocal delivery that has given way to comparisons to The Walkman and Jonathan Fire Eater.  

Two big US tours followed supporting The Walkmen and Cold War Kids plus a UK arena tour with Paul Weller including 3 sold out Brixton Academy dates.

The Hosts have also played numerous one off shows with Richard Hawley and Cherry Ghost as well as appearing at the Barclays Wireless Festival in Hyde Park, Dot to Dot Festival, Belladrum Festival and CMJ Festival in New York. The latter showcase resulted in US radio plays with the notorious Denis The Menace playing the track on KUST San Francisco, closely followed by a spin on John Richards cult show on KEXP Seattle.

‘September Song’ will be released Worldwide on Monday 8th April. The Hosts debut album - also with production from Mercury Music and recent Brit Award nominated Richard Hawley - follows later in 2013. 

Catch The Hosts live: 

6th April: Sheffield Leadmill
11th April: London Wilmington Arms
12th April: Manchester Castle 

www.facebook.com/thehosts



Friday, 22 March 2013

RW/FF With Ben P Scott #10

This week: talentless arse Robbie Williams thinks it's a good idea to cluelessly insult a whole host of indie legends, so let's insult him. I despair at some of the rubbish I see on Twitter, and talk about the brilliant new LP from Steve Mason. Also, the new albums from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Strokes, plus an incredible single from The Hosts, and the lovely new record from Charlie Clark, formerly of Astrid... As well as more Bowie stuff, in the latter half of the column, I go back to late 1994 for my first proper gig with The Boys From County Hell...

I'm not in any way a "cyber bully", but every now and again I do enjoy having a dig at people on Twitter every now and again. Seeing some of the hashtags in the trending topics list on that site infuriates me to a colossal extent. So I felt that is was entirely necessary to berate useless and annoying X Factor wankers Jedward for employing another typically desperate publicity stunt to promote whatever piece of excrement they've shat out into the charts this week. 

I don't want to see you in the topics on my screen. You have no reason to be making yourselves known to me. You are worthless. "Retweet this hashtag (insert lengthy hashtag here) and this link (followed by a link that takes up more of the allowed 140 characters) plus your message and we'll guarantee to retweet it!". Fucking morons. So after calling them dicks and telling them to "piss off", I was in a pretty vitriolic yet somewhat amused mood, satisfied that I had done my bit for humanity. But I was certainly not amused when I read about attention-seeking fool Robbie Williams criticising not only the mighty Suede, but a whole host of other well loved groups from the glorious Britpop era.


It started when Suede legend Brett Anderson did nothing but tell the truth in a recent interview: "There has always been crap pop music. I remember when we had all the crap boybands in the 90s — stuff like that has always been around. The lack of money in the music industry created a crisis. Record companies don't have the resources to take a gamble, so these pop stars are created by committee.". Williams disagreed, and claimed that "any quarter decent 3 chord knobhead could get a deal in the 90's" before listing Echobelly, Shed Seven, Symposium, Menswear, Sleeper, Hurricane #1, Ride, The Bluetones, Ocean Colour Scene, Northern Uproar, Kula Shaker, Chapterhouse and others. 

A lot of guitar bands were given record deals in the 90's because for a short period of time, people realised that tacky manufactured pop had nothing of any value to offer, and because it broke through the barriers, indie music was finally allowed to be heard on mainstream radio and TV. Then the men in suits realised that real musicians care about their work too much to be manipulated like a boyband can, so they tried as hard as they could to fill the radio with garbage once again.


His list of "Britpop" groups included Curve and Ride. Yes, the same Ride whose 1991 album 'Nowhere' is often hailed as one of the all time shoegaze classics. Different era, different genre. Not only is he sickeningly arrogant and thick as shit, but the artists he's insulting are intelligent, humble people like Simon Fowler, Steve Cradock, Mark Morriss and Andy Bell. People who also have the sort of musical ability and experience in songwriting that Williams couldn't even begin to understand. It's like talent is actually an alien concept to him.


Some will probably try and make out that these groups must be really jealous of a "big" "star" like Williams.

They're not. He may have the hollow tabloid fame and he may have the money, but there's one thing his money has never been able to buy him: talent. So it's more likely that he's jealous of these bands, a lot of whom are still well-loved and fondly remembered by music lovers. Yes MUSIC lovers. Well informed enthusiasts who love music, not "average" people who buy whatever the radio makes them hear the most.


THEN he tried to claim that there are "magnificent pop bands in every generation" before saying that he "feels sorry for the people too bigoted" to appreciate them. "Bigoted"? It's called having standards. The only people who listen to manufactured pop are the people who don't get to hear anything else on their radios. 


THEN he insulted the entire world of music by saying that "the world's a lot more exciting with a One Direction in it", trying to provoke people further, "more hearts will race at a new 1D album than they ever have or will at any Suede album".


So the world is a "more exciting" place how exactly? They release bland material into a bland climate where all people are exposed to is unimaginative, squeaky clean, easily marketable, family friendly bollocks. Maybe Williams would care to explain exactly what is so "exciting" about that? Obviously he's sticking up for the world of manufactured pop, because it's the only place where talentless people like him can succeed.

It translates as "One Direction must be better than Suede because they're more popular". Yes, they are known by a lot more people and we all know why. Because a huge group of businessmen are making sure that they are seen and heard everywhere. Why did he feel the need to even try and compare the two? Suede release records because they are good at making music, and that gift needs to be shared. I know I'm glad to have 'Bloodsports' and all their other LPs in my collection. Whereas that shitty little boyband... What do they do exactly? They exist in different worlds. Suede are legends and One Direction are nothing but manufactured guff. A disposable, interchangeable laughing stock whose marketing department have managed to brainwash a load of kids and uninformed people into buying their garbage. They won't be in critic's polls in 20 years time, because they are notoriously shit.

Brett quite rightly criticised the current state of the mainstream, because it's just clogged with money making products that have no artistic value. He was right to criticise the standards of the "artists" in the singles charts, because they have nothing to offer.


Twat.
Williams is blindly slagging off a whole host of musicians to try and cause a stir to gain himself some publicity, but there's another reason why the music of the Britpop era brings back bad memories for him.

In the mid 90's, guitar bands were starting to take over the charts. Robbie Williams knew his popularity was under threat because kids were now aware of real musicians who could write songs and play instruments. He panicked and quickly tried to rebrand and associate himself with the indie  scene. So after leaving Take That, his first single was a blatant and very poor imitation of Oasis. He'd also desperately turn up at various gigs and attempt to attach himself to whatever band was playing. But these credible musicians probably didn't want to be associated with this pathetic wannabe. So understandably Williams bears a grudge against a lot of people who were in mid 90's guitar bands.

His attitude makes me sick. 

He seems to be under the impression that people don't listen to these groups anymore.

They're not in the public eye because most of them have split up and aren't making records anymore. And the ones that are still active aren't heard on the radio because they don't have the money to get there. Simple as that. The bands no longer operating still have fanbases, often ones crying out for a reunion. And the ones still making records and gigging are still well loved by their fans.

If no one remembers Ocean Colour Scene anymore, then who are these imaginary people buying all these tickets to their often sold out shows? If you read any magazine's polls of the greatest records of the 90's, Suede will be in there. That boyband won't be in those lists in 20 years time.

Northern Uproar are a bunch of hard working musicians who get a real kick out of writing great tunes and playing them live. They do what they do because they love it. They know they're not going to make loads of money. I expect they sometimes lose money doing what they do. Honest, gifted and passionate about what they do, they are the complete opposite of greedy, fame-hungry idiots like Williams.

Not only should he apologise individually to each band he has insulted, but he should be made to learn more about each one and listen to all of their music. Maybe then he'll be able to admit that they're all superior to him.

A complete and utter knob.


Steve Mason‘s career has produced an array of interesting styles, not to mention some utterly brilliant songs. The work he created with The Beta Band was thrillingly experimental yet tunefully strong, and his projects since the band’s split in 2004 have been most compelling indeed. His second solo set ‘Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time’ is named after a Buddhist term for an easily distracted brain. And in an age of mass-media induced public ignorance, there’s no better time for this creative intelligent musician to unleash his most confrontational work yet. The press release states that the LP is “shaped by the current global political climate and the lack of dissenting voices in music and popular culture in general”. But although it’s billed as his political album, it doesn’t see him standing on a soapbox and delivering a lecture. It’s FAR more subtle and cleverly done than that. It’s a record that also provides us with his most personal collection of songs yet.

At nearly an hour in length and boasting no less than 20 tracks, it’s an ambitious, sprawling effort that incorporates a wildly eclectic mixture of genres from country to hip hop. But out of the 20 tracks, 11 are mostly brief interludes that link the nine wonderful full length songs together and give the LP a fuller sense of variety. The elegantly melancholic ‘A Lot Of Love’ is without a doubt one of the finest things this artist has ever put to record, an acoustic piano-driven ballad that excels in the melody department, bringing its reflective musings to life with blissful simplicity. Another major highlight is the incredible trip-hop flavoured ‘Seen It All Before’, which combines lightly shuffling dusty beats with sparse piano and another infectious, yearning chorus. It’s both haunting and irresistibly funky in equal measures.

Sticking with the standout tracks, the single ‘Oh My Lord’' is as accessibly pop as Mason gets, bursting with enjoyably bright hooks and providing a nice contrast to the thoughtfully bewitching ‘Never Be Alone’, which delivers another earworm melody and a wonderfully understated arrangement. In fact, it’s almost like a wiser and more elegant relative of The Beta Band’s ‘Dry The Rain’The final movement of the album is where the politics take a front seat, ‘More Money More Fire’ featuring an effective and well informed rap from MC Mystro that deals with the 2011 London riots, or more importantly the factors that contributed to such an event. The following ‘Fire!’ uses the same hard hitting musical backdrop, which evokes the 1960′s funk sounds associated with the Black Power movement during the civil rights era. 

At first it may sound like a very mixed bag, but a few more listens will allow the listener to look deeper beneath the surface, where they will find a well thought-out, carefully crafted autobiographical concept record that deals with personal aspects of the author’s life as well as addressing his political stance. It’s angry, socially conscious and stimulating, but also engaging, humble and compassionate. Maybe it doesn’t need to be this long, but it’s the outstanding quality of its key moments that make ‘Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time’ a career best. Read my full album review HERE, where you can also listen to the LP via Spotify. 



'Comedown Machine', that upcoming 5th album from The Strokes is streaming online now. They seem to have taken on 80's funk pop on the opening track 'Tap Out', which does at least provide a pleasing melody. It's actually quite keyboard heavy throughout the record, except for 'All The Time' which reverts to their familiar early style. 'One Way Trigger' is a great song ruined by a bad 'Take On Me'-esque keyboard hook that incessantly burdens itself on the verses. When it disappears during the guitar solo, it's a relief. Then it comes back again. Melodically it is in fact very pleasing, and a very strong piece of songwriting can be found under its stylistic flaws. '50/50' instantly has more of an edge, a bit of danger. In a way it's quite Nirvana-like, but only during its chorus, and certainly not to the point of imitation. Best thing on the record? Yes. 

'Call It Fate, Call It Karma' is not unlike an old easy listening ballad, and also the most truly psychedelic The Strokes have ever sounded. A bizarre closer. I don't know what to think. It's definitely not the same old Strokes, and they're clearly exploring new things. Some of it is unrecognisable from the band who made that debut LP. Despite a run of disappointing albums over the last decade, they've all had their moments. 80's funk and synth pop provide the record with a flavour. Whether the songs are all great is another matter. Maybe they'll grow on me. It's a very odd record in places, and the vocal style voice fronting the group gets stranger yet again. Read my full album review HERE.

John Grant's new album 'Pale Green Ghosts' hits record shops this week. It's going to surprise a few people that's for sure. Rather than return with the familiar piano ballads and dark acoustic numbers, he's delving into electro and exploring new directions. I was due to review this LP, in fact I had half of my review written before my recent technical disaster wiped it out (see last week's column), but luckily my fellow GIITTV writer Sean BW Parker has written a piece on it that's not only better than the one I wrote, but shares my opinions on the record. Read that HERE.


Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have just released their seventh album 'Specter At The Feast', which recently received a rather negative review on GIITTV, which can be read HERE. So I think it's only fair to offer an alternative perspective on this record. Initially I didn't warm to the album immediately, but it requires a few plays to make its full impact, and after a week I'm finding it hard to identify that many faults. 


The brooding 'Firewalker' opens the record in a creeping, shadowy fashion. It's almost a bit "desert rock" in fact. It builds up a menacing and ominous tension with a hypnotic, slow-burning groove. The achingly tender ‘Returning’ is in fact not unlike U2's slower moments, except it's more vulnerable in character rather than big and blustery. Everything about it seems mournful, and it's quite lovely. One that takes a few plays to appreciate though. A definite highlight comes within the introspective beauty of ‘Lullaby’, a plaintive and heartfelt moment that glows amidst a blissful melancholic haze, touched with a hint of 'Meddle'-era Pink Floyd.

A more familiar side of BRMC returns for the sleazy riffs and almost Bowie-like disco groove of 'Have The Taste', a hard rocking tune with a direct, infectious chorus and fierce, distorted guitars. It can also easily be danced to. And while there is certainly something nice about the emotionally downtempo serenity of the closing ‘Lose Yourself’, it doesn't need to be anywhere near nine minutes long, and outstays its welcome. The group may not be bringing that many new ideas in to their music, but they haven't completely covered this ground before, and have never sounded quite this introspective before. All of it may take a while to sink in, but 'Specter At The Feast' isn't short of memorable songs. Maybe it's not as fresh and exciting as the first two LPs, instead it works in a different way. It's definitely something that could be termed a grower. Read my full album review HERE.


Some of you may remember late 90's Scottish indie pop types Astrid, a band who could often produce some truly fantastic tunes, sometimes joyously summery and at other times genuinely touching. They split in 2004, with all members continuing to make music. 

As co-writer and occasional vocalist, Charlie Clark was partly responsible for the band's breezy, infectious sound and has recently embarked on a solo career. His debut record is called 'Feel Something', and what a beautifully compelling piece of work it is too. It's a understated, reflective collection of songs, that sees the playful jangle and innocent naiveity of Astrid develop into a harmonious calm blessed with warm, heartfelt sincerity and world wise introspection. Charlie has been kind enough to give us folk at GIIITTV the UK exclusive of the video for 'Sunken Ships', a gorgeously haunting moment that he describes as a "psychedelic sea shanty". You can see that HERE, and listen to the EP online HERE. Watch this site over the next few days for an exclusive interview with Charlie, where he tells us about his past, his present, and what the future holds for him... By the way, I also have to say hello and a big congratulations to the other half of Astrid's songwriting force Willie Campbell, who became a proud father earlier this week. Well done, Sir.


'September Song' is the glorious debut single from The Hosts, and it's a song that will quickly find its way into your head and heart. While it has the feel of reflective sound of stuff from the late 90's post-Britpop era, it very much harks back to the romance of 60's pop, and was written on the 50th anniversary of Buddy Holly's death. With its strong melodies and heartfelt melancholy, it's a truly captivating introduction to what sounds like a massively promising group. It's produced by Richard Hawley, who himself has a great ear for this kind of marvellous sound. People NEED to hear it. And you can do so HERE, where more info about The Hosts can also be found.

If you're not a regular reader of God Is In The TV, then you may not know that March is our Bowie Month. This week saw the release of our 'Ashes To Ashes' compilation, which features a range of David Bowie covers from some fantastic artists, many of them recorded exclusively for this project. Thank you to all who contributed, and a big round of applause for our editor Bill, who has been working majorly hard to make this project a success. You can listen to the 'Ashes To Ashes' compilation HERE. We'll still be celebrating Bowie for another week or so yet, so look out for my SIX PART compilation featuring my favourite Bowie moments from each era. Not to be missed.

A 1992 Radio 1 Roadshow and watching a covers band at a rugby club bar were not things that I could really class as my first gigs. Especially after learning that my mum and dad had once been to see Slade. As well as spending most of his time behind a bar, my Dad would frequently visit other clubs and pubs, sometimes going out to seek out local musicians  that he thought might be able to attract crowds to Bentley's, the club that he managed in Corsham. One day I remember him picking us up from school and enthusiastically raving about a band that he had seen the previous night at The Bear in Melksham. Have I mentioned this in a previous column? I think I have, because it was also the moment that I became alerted to The Pogues, a group that my Dad said were similar to the one that he had seen the night before. They were a lively six piece band from Calne who went by the name of The Boys From County Hell, and rabble-rousing folk songs were their speciality. Impressed with their ability to rouse a crowd, my dad booked them to play Bentley's. They did two gigs there, and from what I can remember the first was in 1994. I'd become familiar with their songs after listening to their demo tape titled 'What'll Ya Have?', but hearing them live absolutely thrilled me.

They were more than just a Pogues tribute act though, even though on the surface there were obvious stylistic similarities. The biggest difference was the style of the lyrics, which weren't as history-tinged or politically poetic as MacGowan's punk tales. The stories that Boys sang of were more concerned with bar brawls, rowdy antics on sea ferries, sex with New York prostitutes, and their never-understated fondness for a pint. Complete with a raucous kazoo solo, 'Face Only A Mother Could Love' was about "going to bed with Pamela Anderson and waking up with Bet Lynch (from Coronation Street)", while 'The Card Game' concerned a game of pub poker that descends into drunken warfare. After a priest enters the scene, someone knocks his pint over, and "Father Flynn" grabs the culprit "by the balls". Then comes the priceless line: "So Father Flynn he jumped in to stop the fighting session, and with every punch he threw he said "I'll see you in confession..."". 'Drinking Man' was about a guy called Micky, who loved the booze so much that because alcohol wasn't allowed beyond the pearly gates, he chose to spend his afterlife in hell instead. 

Their storming rendition of the traditional 'Jesse James' was miles better than the one The Pogues did, and plenty of MacGowan and co's numbers would also be included in the set, 'Streams Of Whiskey', 'Waxie's Dargle' and 'Sally Maclennane' to name a few. In hindsight, they could have done with less cover versions and more of their own hugely enjoyable material. But I didn't care about that when I was excitedly watching them play. All the songs would often be punctuated with cries of "come on you bastards!", and there can't have been many (or in fact any) there that weren't enjoying themselves. After the gig the singer Dave Mehaffy gave me one of his old tin whistles, in fact the same one used on their recorded version of 'Jesse James'. Don't have it any more though. What I do still have is a BFCH t shirt, an excellent momento from my first proper gig. 

They played there a second time not long after, where the guitarist was wheelchair bound after falling down the stairs pissed the night before... a few years ago it was revealed to me that in return for playing the band were offered either their usual cash fee or a night of free drink. They opted for the latter, as a supposedly "cheaper" option, however by the end of the night the entertaining drunkards had consumed three times the amount in drink than was intended, working out not so profitable for the club. As Christmas 1994 arrived, East 17 were at number one with 'Stay Another Day', and some of my presents that year were cassette copies of greatest hits albums by The Beautiful South and Bon Jovi. One of those bands I absolutely cringe at now. See if you can guess which one.

Next time I'm going to be moving into 1995, an absolutely glorious year...