Saturday, June 03, 2006

The story of Creation (part 6)

The Jesus And Mary Chain? Nothing more than basic white noise with a snare drum. Oasis? Haughty wankers with big eyebrows and a derivative flare. Teenage Fanclub? Big Star-worshipping, musical tailgaters. My Bloody Valentine? The thick, muddied sound of somnambulists with guitars.

Rubbish, all of it. In fact, Creation Records' one true, bonafide genius was The Legend!

His real name was Jerry Thackray and he hailed from Rotherhithe in London's southeast side. Jerry put his pants on just like the rest of us -- one leg at a time. Except, once his pants were on, Jerry made gold records.

He came to the attention of future Creation head Alan McGee in Jaunary of 1982. McGee was performing with The Laughing Apple at a venue named The Golf Club, and Thackray, a diehard fan of McGee's band, was in attendance. Well, he was pretty much the only one in attendance.

A friendship was forged and McGee eventually brought Thackray on board to record once the Scotsman officially kicked off his influential indie label. Pure pop brilliance then followed. "You . . . chunka chunka . . . acted glamorous. Or so it seems."

Hear them for yourself. Download the five tracks The Legend! released for Creation: "73 in 83," "You Were Glamorous," "Melt the Guns," "Sings the Blues," and "Arrogant Bastards." Five songs the listener will never forget.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Unearthing The Groovy Little Numbers

Tracking down a compilation such as AGARR Retro: Fun While It Lasted, Part II is a must for any nostalgic hipster with an affinity for Scottish pop. Chock full of hard-to-find treasure and out-of-print plunder, the comp features singles released by Stephen Pastel's 53rd & 3rd label.

Some of the artists on the LP went on to churn out rather substantial bodies of work: Talulah Gosh with Sarah Records, BMX Bandits with Creation Records. But for many of the featured groups, the output wasn’t so substantial. Take The Groovy Little Numbers, for example. The band released just two singles during its lifespan, both for 53rd & 3rd: "You Make My Head Explode" in 1987 and "Happy Like Yesterday" one year later. The latter track is featured on the aforementioned compilation and calls to mind contemporaries such as The June Brides, who deftly blended sunny horn sections with cheery guitar parts.

The Groovy Little Numbers were part of the incestuous Bellshill scene and featured notable musicians like Jim McCulloch (one-time member of BMX Bandits and later, The Soup Dragons) and Joe McAlinden (another one-time member of BMX Bandits, as well as an arranger and sideman for Teenage Fanclub).

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Happy Like Yesterday" by The Groovy Little Numbers.

(And a tiny bit of trivia: The "AGARR" in the compilation's title was used before the catalogue number of every 53rd & 3rd release. It stood for "As Good As (a) Ramones Record," which was the expressed goal of every title cut by the label.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The story of Creation (part 5)

The name was coined by the New Musical Express, noting the tendency of the bands' guitarists to stare at their feet (or their effects pedals), seemingly deep in concentration, while playing. Some fans will argue another story, that shoegazing music was originally made with the intention of being listened to while taking heroin, and that the name refers to a passage from the book Naked Lunch.
Excerpt from Wikipedia's entry on shoegazer

Its highpoint for me being sometime in August 1991 at the Chapterhouse/Slowdive gig one sunny Saturday evening in the Town & Country Club, Kentish Town. It seemed at that precise moment almost every indie head in London was walking past the pub nearby with either a Ride, Lush, Slowdive or Chapterhouse t-shirt. The gig itself was a vacent swish of noise hampered by the bad sound in the venue. Didn't matter though -- it was that zeitgeisty feeling that counted, a "this is our time" mood filtered through the on stage feedback swirl. In fairness, there was a certain focus and purity to the whole scene that sorely lacking with Britpop. It felt cool to be into all this gorgeous noise. When Ride appeared babyfaced on Snub TV early in 1990 singing "Drive Blind" and Lush released the amazing Mad Love EP everything seemed possible for a short time. A new psychedelia was in the air!
Post by user David Gunnip on ILM

I'm crazy, but I'm not mentally ill.
Kevin Shields, My Bloody Valentine

If it inspires greatness in as many bands that inspired us at that time, I think that’s fantastic. I think there is still somewhere that it can go.
Mark Gardener, Ride

At the time, the shoegazer . . . bands were big, and they all just kind of stood there and didn't move. I always felt cheated going to see them; it's like I could've just bought the CD and saved about 15 bucks on the ticket.
Bob Vennum, The Bellrays

Shoegazer dorks are starting to annoy me.
Matt Wobensmith, publisher of Outpunk and head of Outpunk Records

I always thought of shoegazer stuff as like being inside an aquarium with reverberating sound.
Harman Jordan, Shipwreck

The legacy of shoegazing? For a few years, music got "all swirly." Then it stopped being swirly.
Post by user Curt on ILM

Hear them for yourself. Download:

CRE 055: My Bloody Valentine - "You Made Me Realise," (7"+12"+CD5), Aug. 8, 1988

CRE 072: Ride - "Chelsea Girl," (12"), 1990

CRE 092: The Telescopes - "Everso," (12")

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Gang violence needs to be wiped out

The Baltic Fleet, The Parkhead Rebels, The Bundys. Names of up-and-coming bands in Glasgow, right? Hardly.

They're some of the monikers used by the hundreds of street gangs that have plagued the Scottish city for three centuries now. According to a report in the Evening Times, there are roughly 2,000 gang members in Glasgow and more than 110 operating gangs. And this article gives a glimpse of the damage they have wrought: Glasgow has one of the highest murder rates of any western European city, with 55 victims per one million people; between 2002 and 2005, there were almost 600 15-year-old victims of violent crime in Glasgow; in some areas of the city, one in 10 residents has committed a violent offense.

For many, the gang ties have been passed down from generation to generation. Blood feuds with blood ties. "Some of the gangs that are running about now in 2006 have got the same names and the same territorial areas as the gangs that were running about between the wars," said Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan in this story. Glasgow's burgeoning knife culture has also been cited as a contributing factor.

But for the vast majority, the general everyday malaise associated with dire poverty is to blame. Boredom breeding bloodshed. "They're not criminal gangs," Carnochan explained. "It's, sadly, recreational violence. That's what they do on a Saturday night in those areas."

Over the years, the city's thriving music scene has often had a positive, unifying effect on the community. During the 1950s, Glasgow's jazz-filled dance halls and ballrooms brought the youth of the city together (though scuffles between gangs were an occasional problem). When punk officially broke during the summer of 1977, teenagers began to venture forth from their own turf to gig venues and record shops, galvanized by the movement's energy, not concerned with the potential gang-related repercussions.

And of course, the most famous example was the effort of Liverpool's Frankie Vaughan, who attempted to bring peace to the warring gangs of Glasgow's Easterhouse section with a weapons amnesty. Surrender your chibs and stakeys, Vaughan declared, and I will help build you a new community center. It's been said many of the gang members were participating for the publicity alone, but the campaign did have its positive results, as it brought worldwide attention to a centuries-old problem.

Hear them for yourself. Download a pair of tracks from Glasgow's own Sons And Daughters: "Fight" and "Blood."

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Women: Can't live with 'em . . .

So there was a girl involved. Then again, isn't there always?

Daniel Meade, lead guitarist for The Ronelles, said the Glasgow outfit received its moniker when his incessant wooing went relatively ignored. "There is a girl that used to work in The Garage nightclub that I adored," Meade explained in this interview. "I used to leave her tickets to come and see shows, but she never did. She didn't like me."

The lass's name? Ronelle, of course.

And we're guessing the bird would most certainly give Meade the time of day now. In a little over two years, The Ronelles have gone from virtual nobodys to much ballyhooed somebodys, thanks largely to their tireless gigging ethic. The band have supported Kings Of Leon, The Dears, and The Zutons, and nabbed themselves a slot at last year's T In The Park festival. They also joined The Proclaimers' tour of the States for several shows and had their own sell-out, headlining performance at the renowned King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow.

The Ronelles' blistering, celebrated live set was finally committed to tape earlier this year and released by Neon Tetra Records as the LP Motel. The track featured below is "Magic Blues," a stomping, infectious ditty that shows The Ronelles are part-time purveyors of the "Clapton is God" motif.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Magic Blues" by The Ronelles.

Monday, May 29, 2006

"Dawson's Creek," eat your heart out

Boy: This? This is Shop Assistants.

Girl: Doesn't ring a bell.

Boy: They're from Edinburgh. They have this Ramones-meets-folk-meets-naivete thing going on. And singer Alex Taylor -- you have to love that languid vibe she gives off with her singing. The band's first single was released on Stephen Pastel's 53rd & 3rd Records back in 1985. One year later they had a song on the C86 compilation and released their only album. They essentially broke up the following year.

Girl: Funny you mention that . . . The other night in bed I recalled every day of our relationship and when I added them all up, I came to the realization that the bad ones outnumber the good.

Boy: Let's focus on those good days. I would play with your braids and write foolish letters to you in red ink, and smell the dander you left all over my parents' couch. I would lie in a tender stupor, and relive all the kisses and touches we had exchanged that day. I would memorize our conversations, and grow angry when I missed an emphasized word or inflection. I would eagerly anticipate the next moment fortune would bring us. I made accommodations to my life so that it would dovetail yours. I craved everything about you.

Girl: That's all gone now. There's no longer any phenylethylamine in our relationship. Can't you see that? No chemicals, no increasing pulse rates, no increasing energy levels, no happy and dreamy feelings.

Boy: "All lovers young, all lovers must -- consign to thee and come to dust." You believed that too, once.

Girl: Listen: We were beautiful. Today, there is dissonance. Tomorrow there will be nothing.

Boy: Don't go yet. At least wait until the song is finished.

Girl: I have to say good-bye now.

Boy: I really can't imagine there being a more perfect break-up song.

Girl departs.

Boy: "All lovers young, all lovers must . . ."

Hear it for yourself. Download: "I Don't Want To Be Friends With You" by Shop Assistants.