Saturday, 30 June 2018

Track Of The Day: Johnny Marr - Day In Day Out

It's usually Morrissey's work that's seen in the most favourable light since The Smiths split. However, Johnny Marr's third album 'Call The Comet' proves to be his most accomplished solo effort yet. And with the backslashes against Morrissey's somewhat right-wing views getting all the more frequent, its looking like the tables are turning. 'Call The Comet' is certainly more consistent than any album that Moz has put out for years. You'll hear heavy echoes of The Smiths across the excellent 'Day In Day Out', further proof that they would've been a far less interesting band without Marr's amazing guitar work.

Rewind: England United (Echo And The Bunnymen/Ocean Colour Scene /Space /The Spice Girls) - (How Does it Feel to Be) on Top of the World

While England are still in the World Cup, let's take a look back at our nation's official football song from 20 years ago. This one features some very talented people. And the Spice Girls. It's one of the strangest collaborations in chart history, and it's also very symbolic of the era.

On one side you had indie legends Echo And The Bunnymen, whose comeback album 'Evergreen' should've been their well-deserved and long overdue commercial success, but somehow wasn't. There were Simon Fowler and Tommy Scott, who were respectively the frontmen of Ocean Colour Scene and Space, two groups who were both enjoying huge success a couple of years earlier in the climate of Britpop. By the time 1998 came around, both groups were about to see their chart success begin to wane, so perhaps they were roped into taking part in this all-star football anthem by their PR people as an attempt to help keep them in the mainstream public eye. Or maybe they just wanted to work with EATB genius Ian McCulloch. Either way, it turned out to be a blessing. This sounds a lot better all these years later.

In the other corner there was the vocally-challenged pop combo, whose own commercial fortunes seemed to be declining too, after disappointing sales of their second album and the release of a dreadful cash-in movie. It's an even more unlikely collaboration when you consider how hostile the indie guitar scene was towards pop acts in the 90s. And some would say rightly so: It's no secret that I thought the Spice Girls were an absolute abomination. By 1998, the dizzying highs of the Britpop years were soon to fade into memory. There was lots of incredible music being released, yet the mainstream seemed to be more distracted by this manufactured pop act who seemed more interested in having their faces on kids lunchboxes than making music. I always see them as being partly responsible for the decline of a golden age for music. By 1998, I had already realised that. By now I expect many others do as well.

I'm almost offended by the fact that this song is listed on YouTube as "The Spice Girls featuring England United" when it is first and foremost a Bunnymen track featuring some guest singers, with the female five piece acting as mere backing vocalists. Back then, a surefire way to put me off buying any song would be to feature The Spice Girls on it. It was probably for that reason that I never bought myself a copy of this single, despite my fondness for the other musicians involved and being a big football fan at the time.

The pop act's involvement looked like it was a simple ploy to shift more copies. Although apparently it was McCulloch himself who "wanted to mess about with the idea of who to involve. I didn't want All Saints, I wanted the Spice Girls, because people didn't want them to be there. Usually, I run a mile from other people in the music business and I don't enjoy videos at the best of times, but the Spice Girls turned up dressed to the nines, looking larger than life and made it work. It was a good laugh."

Almost like the late 90s equivalent of the 1914 Christmas Truce, the video shows the indie team and the pop team putting their differences aside and having a kickabout in the back yard. Everyone involved looks slightly uncomfortable except for the girl group, who by this point were pros at using any occasion as another opportunity for publicity. But despite the look on Simon Fowler's face that seems to suggest "why the hell did I agree to this?", by all accounts everybody had great fun.

Interestingly at the time, the NME reported that the song had "beaten rival entries from Blur, Pulp and The Lightning Seeds". While it's a safe bet that the Lightning Seeds track was the 1998 re-recording of Three Lions, its unclear whether Blur and Pulp both recorded new tracks intended for an England football single or whether they had put forward existing songs. 'Glory Days' was pretty much the only Pulp song from the era that would've fitted in with the mood of the World Cup, and could've been their biggest hit since Common People.

It was also reported that 'Top Of The World' was planned to be recorded as a "‘Perfect Day’-style collaboration" with vocals from the likes of "All Saints, Cast, Jarvis Cocker, Finley Quaye, Louise, Robbie Williams plus members of the England squad." Imagine that... this track could've actually featured an even more mismatched combination of people.

The song was overshadowed that year by Fat Les's much more terrace chant-friendly Vindaloo, and was criticised for supposedly being too melodic for a football anthem. But like the classic Three Lions two years before it, the song captures that same naive sense of hope, as well as an undertone of sadness, underachievement and the feeling that the ultimate prize will always be just out of reach. Imagine how great and nostalgic this song would've sounded now if England had actually won the World Cup that year...

It's no World In Motion, but it is what it is. Consider this a reappraisal.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Track Of The Day: Danny Goffey - Let It Happen

While some reckon that Gaz Coombes has "gone a bit Radiohead", Supergrass drummer Danny Goffey has just released a new album that will please fans of his old band. 'Schtick!' kicks off with this bouncy, funky Bowie-like number, where you can also hear echoes of Talking Heads. A fine opening track on a fun, eclectic record that has Goffey's humour stamped all over it. Elsewhere, Brett Anderson features on the brilliant 'Ancient Text', and a song called 'Cosmic Bob' is as nuts as its title suggests.

Rewind: Wagon Christ - Rendleshack

It's been years since I last listened to Wagon Christ aka Luke Vibert, whose music I remember being played often on John Peel's show. This track was from the Power Of Love EP, which was released 20 years ago in June 1998.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Track Of The Day: The Blinders - 'L'etat C'est Moi'

This lot became my favourite new up-and-coming band after just one listen to this terrific new single. Releasing their debut album 'Columbia' soon, The Blinders are a Manchester-based outfit who originally formed in Doncaster.

They bash out an exciting blend of punk, indie and psychedelica, listing their influences as Dylan, Cohen, Mark E Smith, Lennon, Cave, Kerouac, Rimbaud, Orwell, Ginsberg, and S.Borroughs, as well as "Manson and The Devil". They will be touring the UK in October and November.

Rewind: Gorkys Zygotic Mynci - 'Sweet Johnny'

This is in my humble opinion one of the best singles of the late 90s. Catchy, raucous and then soothingly melodic, it's a superb Welsh indie opus. This underrated treasure was released as a single 20 years ago back in June 1998, reaching number 60 and the video was made by legendary cult comedy duo Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish. It can be found on the group's album 'Gorky 5'. Gorkys Zygotic Mynci also have the distinction of being the only band to have 8 UK Top 75 singles without ever making the Top 40. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Track Of The Day: The Living End - 'Don't Lose It'

Here is the brand new single from hugely underrated Australian rock trio The Living End. It's almost criminal that such a fine band should still be so relatively unknown here in the UK. "The Living who?" I hear you ask. A lot of people would probably think they were a new band. They've actually been going for 24 years now, and their classic 1998 anthem 'Prisoner Of Society' was in fact the highest selling Australian single of the 1990s.

Now about to release their eighth studio LP, over the course of their career the group have gradually evolved from a psychobilly-infused punk band reminiscent of Green Day playing The Stray Cats into a bigger, more melodic alternative rock act that could rival the Foo Fighters. Rousing and riding a euphoric wave, 'Don't Lose It' bodes well for their forthcoming new album, due later this year...

Rewind: Propellerheads - 'Bang On!'

Some terrific big beat-infused tunage from 20 years ago. The riotous 'Bang On' was taken from 'Decksanddrumsandrockandroll', the only album by Bath-based electronic duo the Propellerheads. Coincidentally, I bought a CD copy of that album in a Greenwich charity shop just the other day for a mere 20p. Needless to say, more than worth every penny. This single was a UK Top 40 hit 20 years ago back in June 1998. Both members Will White and Alex Gifford are still involved in various separate projects.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Track Of The Day: Ash - 'True Story'

Wonderful opening track from Islands, the recent album from Ash. Just one of the standout tracks from it that rank as some of the band's best work. The Northern Irish trio will playing some festival dates this summer and will be on tour in the USA and UK later this year.

Rewind: Pulp - 'A Little Soul'

Difficult not to get emotional while listening to this sad, touching moment from Pulp's underrated post-Britpop masterpiece 'This Is Hardcore', a record that I would put up there as one of the band's finest albums. Maybe the best father-and-son song of all time, this track was released as a single 20 years ago back in June 1998.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Track Of The Day: Underworld and Iggy Pop - 'Bells And Circles'

Underworld and Iggy Pop have announced a new joint EP titled Teatime Dub Encounters, out on July 27. The rock legend and techno duo originally met up to collaborate on music intended for the Trainspotting 2 soundtrack, but plans changed and instead we end up with a whole EP of crazy, awesome music from this brilliant pairing.

Rewind: Kenickie - 'I Would Fix You'

Melancholic summer indie pop from Kenickie, a much-loved band who were fronted by DJ/presenter Lauren Laverne. This single was a UK chart hit 20 years ago back in June 1998 and was taken from their second and final album 'Get In'.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Track Of The Day: Slaves - Cut And Run

Playing their most massive show yet as they support the Foo Fighters in London this afternoon, Slaves are getting ready to unleash their third album. This new offering shows a surprisingly more melodic, slightly Blur-like side to the punky duo, but don't make the mistake of thinking they've calmed down...

Rewind: Ultrasound - Stay Young

If you've never heard of Ultrasound before, by the time you've finished listening to this you'll probably be wondering why they didn't become a huge phenomenon. When this absolute epic was released as a single 20 years ago back in June 1998, it may have made the UK Top 40, but the music world was never ready for Ultrasound.

After returning years later, the fact that their stunning 2012 comeback album Play For Today never made the Top 40 proves that the mainstream STILL isn't ready for Ultrasound. The mainstream's loss... Their third album 'Real Britannia' was also a corker. The band will be playing a few gigs later this year.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Track Of The Day: Tim Burgess - 'Clutching Insignificance'

The Charlatans have followed last year's excellent 'Different Days' album with a recent EP entitled 'Totally Eclipsing'. Today however, we will instead be focusing on a track that you may have missed, taken from frontman Tim Burgess's  latest solo record 'As I Was Now'. The album was released a couple of months ago on Record Store Day, but was actually recorded back in 2008 and made with a band featuring members of The Horrors, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine and Klaxons. From it here is the excellent 'Clutching Insignificance'.

Rewind: Bernard Butler - 'A Change Of Heart'

People often forget that former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler made two solo albums, the first of which was actually a fantastic and underrated work of the post-Britpop era. 'People Move On' spawned three UK Top 40 hits, including 'A Change Of Heart' which was released as a single 20 years ago in June 1998.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Track Of The Day: Suede - 'The Invisibles'

The mighty Suede return with new album 'The Blue Hour' in September. Here's the first taster from it, a brooding slow burner of a song. Although maybe they could've done a bit better with the video...

Rewind: Ian Brown - 'Can't See Me'

Taking a trip back in time again for some very slick grooves, courtesy of Ian Brown. 'Can't See Me' was taken from 1998's superb 'Unfinished Monkey Business'. This track was a UK chart hit 20 years ago back in June 1998 and also featured fellow Stone Roses Mani and Reni.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Track Of The Day: Eels - 'Rusty Pipes'

Downbeat yet beautiful, this magnificent track is my personal highlight of 'The Deconstruction', the latest album from the Eels, and the best thing Mark 'E' Everett has done in years. 

Rewind: Super Furry Animals - 'Ice Hockey Hair'

Hard to believe its been two decades since this amazing non-album single from the Super Furry Animals became a UK chart hit 20 years ago back in June 1998. If you're ever feeling miserable, angry or unhappy, then 'Ice Hockey Hair' can out the smile back on your face. It's like musical prozac, and it gets extra points for the vocoder and filtered drum solo. One of those very special songs from my youth. Here's the glorious full length version. 

And if you didn't know, SFA frontman Gruff Rhys recently released his new solo album 'Babelsberg'.

Rewind/Fast Forward: Welcome back to RW/FF

It's been a while, hasn't it? After a long and unplanned break from writing about music, the RW/FF site is back. I'll be explaining my long absence in a forthcoming blog post, and also letting everyone know the reasons that I have returned. People who forgot the era of the cassette tape weren't too sure what RW/FF even meant, so for the sake of those people and others, this site is now known by its original full name, Rewind/ Fast Forward. But you can still call it RW/FF. That logo is too good for me to get rid of, so that too shall stay.

As before, I'm still running this site single-handed, so a lack of time means I'll only be dedicating my time to the very best and most essential music new and old. There will be album reviews, features, the occasional interview, and the new monthly RW/FF TV playlists. Each day will bring you a fresh new Track Of The Day as well as a trip back in time with the 'Rewind' posts celebrating music that graced the music world 20 years ago.

So if you enjoyed being on board with RW/FF before, then stay seated as our journey restarts...

Ben P Scott

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Track Of The Day: James - 'Busted'

.. And 20 years later, James are still making great music. This is a brooding, dramatic track from their new EP 'Better Than That', which is available now on vinyl and download. A new album 'Living In Extraordinary Times' arrives in September. 

Rewind: James - 'Runaground'

Recorded for their Number 1 'Best Of' compilation, this underrated and brilliant track from indie legends James was released as a single 20 years ago back in June 1998.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Track Of The Day: Gorillaz - Lake Zurich

The new Gorillaz album 'The Now Now' is the most focused and less crowded Gorillaz record to date. And also the best. With less reliance on guest vocalists, Damon Albarn (in his virtual role as 2D) uses this as another opportunity to demonstrate his utterly masterful songwriting skills and ability to evolve constantly. From it here is the irresistible cowbell-topped instrumental 'Lake Zurich'. It's a fine slice of late night summer funk with sizzling hot synth sounds and echoes of Grandmaster Flash.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Track Of The Day: Orbital - Tiny Foldable Cities

Electronic legends Orbital return with this excellent new track, taken from the forthcoming album 'Monsters Exist', out in September. Having heard some live versions of the other new material, it's a record I look forward to.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Rewind: Gomez - Get Myself Arrested

Released as a single 20 years ago back in June 1998 and still a great song. Dusty, bluesy, stoned oddness from Gomez. Currently out on tour celebrating 20 years since the Mercury Prize winning debut album Bring It On. 

Track Of The Day: Goat - Let It Burn

This was actually released back in May, but since this is the first edition of these monthly new music round-ups, I'll feature it here now. It's too good not to. Heavy psychedelic tribal funk from Goat, available now on Rocket Recordings as a 7" single. The B side is wonderful too. I hope there's another album from them on the way. Already one of the greatest tracks of this decade...


Friday, 1 June 2018

Track Of The Day: Manic Street Preachers - Hold Me Like A Heaven

One of the many highlights of the recent 'Resistance Is Futile' album from the incredible Manic Street Preachers. This poignant arms-in-the-air anthem is the latest track to be given a video, and to be frank, when they've just put out such a reaffirming classic of a record, every song from it could be a single.