Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Robert Marlow - The Peter Pan Effect (1984)

By special request
  1. Calling All Destroyers
  2. Torch Team
  3. The Face Of Dorian Gray
  4. Easternize
  5. Life In A Film
  6. The Kiss
  7. That Dangerous Age
  8. Claudette
  9. Ambition
  10. Crying For The Moon
  11. I Just Want To Dance
Mirror download

Reformation, Reformation

Is it me or are there a crazy amount of reformations of 80's bands right now?

For example: The Blow Monkeys want you to pre-order the new album, before which they are releasing a double CD greatest hits set.

Other artists getting the double CD treatment include Paul Young and two extended Thompson Twins reissues - and about time too!

Swing Out Sister have a new CD "Beautiful Mess" out next month in Japan, with a release elsewhere hopefully to follow soon.

Johnny Hates Jazz have got back together (minus Clark Datchler, who has done other good things of his own recently) so it's now the Calvin and Mike show.

ABC have a new album Traffic slated for release in March. I quite liked the last album Skyscraping back in 1997. Eleven years later, I'm not getting my hopes up. I always preferred the cartoons, anyway. How about the video for "Be Near Me"?

In case you missed it, Carol Decker (of T'Pau) released her solo single "Just Dream" last September.

I'll probably get taken to task for this, but I had no idea that Level 42 had released a new album a year or two back, and were planning some extensive gigs in the coming year. There's a lot of videos and other stuff at the Official Website.

In unrelated news, Guns 'N' Roses have apparently finished Chinese Democracy. It's being delivered by Nessie, Bigfoot and the Yeti, all of which are more likely to be seen in a record store. Oh, wait. Sorry, I meant that Nessie, Bigfoot and the Yeti are more likely to be seen than a record store. Anywho, my point is that if you had been working on the same album for over ten years, maybe you should consider changing the title to something like S**t I should Have Done Years Ago When Somebody Cared. Just a thought.

Spandau Ballet - Reformation (great song BTW)

Smiths Covers Competition - An Update

Having gotten about half way through this very democratic and fair minded contest, I have decided that I am quite bored of it all by now, and choosing a list of candidates for about ten people to vote on is a little underwhelming. Therefore, in a crassly autocratic gesture, the self-appointed dictator of MFL has elected the following to complete the track listing. Any appeals from the gathered throng may be heard for one week - suggest an alternative and which one to drop and I may hear your pleas. Who-hoo!

9. The Killers - Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself
10. Love Spit Love - How Soon Is Now?
11. Gene Loves Jezebel - Ask
12. Carter USM - Panic
13. The Beautiful South - Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
14. Wojtek Godzisz - A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours
15. Cinerama - London
16. Stars - This Charming Man
17. Placebo - Bigmouth Strikes Again
18. Billy Bragg - Never Had No One Ever

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Angie Aparo - The American (1999)

Here's another recent classic that seems to have fallen out of print. I had the privilege of seeing Angie (short for Angelo) perform a solo set in Winooski, Vt. a couple of years after this came out (hence the signed cover) and over a pint I told him that this album was in effect a greatest hits album - every track could have been a worthy chart single. He seemed to appreciate that. Much of the power and apocalyptic sound of the album is thanks to the involvement of Matt Serletic (producer of Matchbox 20 and many other alternative rock acts) and he succeeded in wringing every nuance out of the thoughtful compositions and dramatic melodies. "Cry" is the best known track, being covered later by Faith Hill, and the lead single "Spaceship" briefly impacted MTV. My favorite tracks are the MLK inspired "Memphis City Rain", the jaunty "It's Alright" and a powerful commentary on contemporary life in the USA, the haunting title track "The American". But truthfully you could put this on random play and enjoy every track, in any order. I've added two extras - "Alone" was the B-Side of the Spaceship CD Single and "Nature's Way" was included on a later covers album project but I always thought it fitted in well in terms of sound and composition.
  1. Green Into Gold
  2. Spaceship
  3. Hush
  4. Cry
  5. Third Time Around
  6. Free Man
  7. Gravity
  8. Beautiful
  9. Memphis City Rain
  10. Swell
  11. It's Alright
  12. Wonderland
  13. The American
  14. Alone (bonus track)
  15. Nature's Way (bonus track)

Official Website
MySpace Page
Wikipedia Entry

Clarkesville - The Half Chapter (2003)

I was going to post a Clarkesville track ("Evergreen") yesterday, and then it occurred to me that most people have probably never heard of this group. My brother initially found a copy in a bargain bin and got it purely because there is a loose geographical connection to where I live. Shortly afterwards I found an import copy myself going cheap at Grimey's in Nashville. It's a good album, and definitely a grower.

It's a little more recent than most of the albums I post but as it was only released in the UK and Japan, and is now out of print, I think it deserves more exposure.
  1. Evergreen
  2. Heavy Soul
  3. Secret File
  4. Everyone Will Have Their Day
  5. Someday
  6. Spinning
  7. Moonflowers
  8. Reprise
  9. Last Man Standing
  10. Just Kills Me

There are also a handful of extra tracks from the sessions dotted around on CD Singles. Does anyone have "Holding On", "Set In Stone" and "Fighter"?

Update: Here's Holding On, from the Secret File CD Single. Thanks Mat!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Everything's Gone Green

Isn't this a great ad? Something about that reddish hair and green blouse I find appealing, in a subconscious-Ireland tribute kind of way.

My posts are a bit rambling, sometimes. There's a reason why I considered calling my blog British Or Gay?

In unrelated news, I was excited to see that Matt Costa released a new album Unfamiliar Faces this week. Of course, being British, my excitement was along the lines of "oh, jolly good, now where did I put my pipe" and not "let me scream for ten minutes, hug everybody, cry, wet myself, and plan my autobiography", which you can witness on US reality TV every night of the week.

Matt's last effort, Songs We Sing, was one of my favorite records of 2006, not to mention also my favorite album cover of that year. If you're looking for warm vocals, delicate acoustics and a great, chilled-out vibe, then he's your man. Here's the video for the first single from the new album, Mr. Pitiful. It's quite inventive.

Yes, green does appear to be my favorite color, or even my favourite colour. Which is why I also like this album cover and this one and, probably, Kermit The Frog.

Milltown Brothers - Apple Green
Faith Brothers - Victoria Green
New Order - Everything's Gone Green

Did I mention that I have green eyes?

Coldplay - Green Eyes

The Great Smiths Covers Competition

Track 8 - Everyday Is Like Sunday

As covered by:
The Pretenders
10,000 Maniacs
Fate Or Trouble
Colin Meloy

For more gray Sundays, check out a recent post from Two Divided By Zero

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jules Shear - The Eternal Return (1985)

In which we imagine a world where the compact disc was introduced in 1980, and now-obscure artists and albums could be preserved for posterity...

1. If She Knew What She Wants
2. Stand Tall
3. Steady
4. Change (Change)
5. The Fever's On
6. Her S/he Comes (with Pal Shazar)
7. Memories Burn Hard
8. You're Not Around
9. Empty Out the House (Throw it all Away)
10. Every Time I Get The Feeling


Password: music

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Great Smiths Covers Competition

Track 7 - Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

As covered by:
Grant Lee Phillips
Ether Aura
The Thrills
Reader, Gregson & Hewerdine

A five horse race this time, which may prove a problem for my readership of four! Just this time, I'll let you vote for more than one.

Dubh Chapter - Silence, Cunning & Exile (1990)

By special request!

Dubh Chapter - Silence, Cunning & Exile (1990)

  1. Palace Of Dreams
  2. Happy Is The Bride
  3. Say The Word
  4. Touch And Go
  5. The Devil You Know
  6. To See You Again
  7. One Of Those Fools
  8. ...Of Loss And Wreck
  9. On Any Other Day
  10. All My Souvenirs
  11. Just A Rumour
[UPDATE] Finally got around to re-posting this one, thanks for all the requests!! October 2013

Alternate download

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Revenge - Gun World Porn EP (1992)

1. Little Pig
2. Cloud Nine
3. State Of Shock
4. Deadbeat
5. Deadbeat (Gary Clail remix)
6. State Of Shock (L'Pool edit)
7. State Of Shock (paralized mix)


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Great Smiths Covers Competition

Track 5 - There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

Probably the most covered Smiths track. Many covers however are pale copies of the original and offer nothing new. Even though I don't think the original can be bettered, here are my selections:

Joseph Arthur
Null Device

I could just as easily have gone for covers by The Divine Comedy, TM Schneider, Pilot Scott Tracy, or live covers by The Ocean Blue or Neil Finn.

Please vote for your preference!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Great Smiths Covers Competition

Track 2 - Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want

As covered by:

Dream Academy

I also really like the version by The Scattered Pages. This version is available on a compilation produced to benefit the homeless and the MP3 is available to purchase at Amazon here. You can also stream the whole track here.

Don't forget to vote for your favorite!

Random 80's Wednesday

A day late and a dollar short - the story of my life, really.

SSQ - Tonight We'll Make Love Until We Die (from the Return of the Living Dead Soundtrack, 1985)
Robert Marlow - The Face of Dorian Grey (from The Peter Pan Effect, 1983)
New Order - Way of Life (from Brotherhood, 1986)
James - Ya Ho (from Strip-Mine, 1988)
Rockets - Under The Sun (from Imperception, 1984)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Nobody Loves Us"

The Great Smiths Covers Competition

It seemed like a pretty straightforward idea at the time. I had just found a free sampler CD in a Record Store (remember those?) with Brit sop-smith Scott Matthews doing a cover of "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side". I thought I would post it, and realizing that I could come up with a few other decent Smiths covers, I elected to make a mixtape. Then I found out the truth.

There are hundreds of covers of Smiths and Morrissey songs out there. Hundreds. Every time I thought I'd discovered them all, another one came along, like a number two bus in a Doctor Who episode. What to do?

Here's the plan. I'm going to post a few at a time, along with a small poll where my beloved readers* can choose a favorite. If all goes well, I should end up with the definitive Smiths/Morrissey tribute CD, which I have already entitled "Nobody Loves Us" which seemed appropriate, ironic and, by the way, a nod to one of the Moz's better B-Sides.

As I'm not one of those Smiths obsessives (who, for example, might hang out all day at the hyperactive Smiths forums) I'm not planning to debate all the pros and cons of various versions. There's plenty of that elsewhere on the net. You could write a thesis if you want. But for me, either like/no-like is good enough. Oh, and if you heard a better one than I mention, feel free to let me know. Or not.

Track 1 - The Boy With The Thorn In His Side

Scott Matthews
Dinosaur Jr.

* This means you, Davy, Mikey and the gorgeous Miss Parker

Monday, January 7, 2008

Talking 'Bout A Resolution

Some blog-related ideas for 2008:
  1. I'm going to bring back the Nostalgia Trip. I've been worrying too much about what I think other people want instead of making this blog more individual.
  2. Another makeover is in the works. The blue thing isn't working for me.
  3. I'm going to post more mixes, probably on the weekends.
  4. I'm not going to buy a lot of new stuff. I have plenty to listen to already.
  5. I will probably develop some more Idiot's Guides. The one I did on Fish was enjoyable.
  6. I will continue to give kudos and credit to blogs that inspire me.
  7. Lot's more easter eggs, widgets and fun stuff. I kind of got away from that.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Nostalgia Trip: Fighting Fantasy

Over the last few weeks I have discussed comic books, collecting things and computers, so this week I am going to further enhance my geek credentials by talking about the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks which were very popular back in the 1980's.

The idea behind the books was very simple and at the same time quite revolutionary. As a way of cashing in on the growth in interest in Dungeons & Dragons games and Games Workshop products, the books were designed to give younger boys the ability to experience a fantasy adventure without having to learn a lot of strange and complicated rules, buy a lot of expensive manuals and equipment, and, most importantly, did not require having similarly obsessive friends that were willing to spend hours sitting at a table with you.

The gamebooks did have some rules, which involved rolling a dice and recording some scores, and also keeping a list of the items you found during the adventure. I'm sure I was similar to many others in that I tended to work through the books under the assumption that I won all my battles, was reasonably lucky and skillful, and kept my finger in the page before in case I suddenly died horribly and had to go back a few moments in time. Even with this liberal approach, the books were usually difficult, and often relied on finding certain objects and presenting them to certain people in a certain order.

The books had a good replay value because it was very hard to remember all the incidents and tricks that came into play. The descriptions and gameplay in the books were always quite detailed, truly immersing the reader in a different world each time. The books had some variety - some were outdoors, some were in a city, some involved fiendish traps and mazes, some were even set in space.

We grew up in a Christian household, and consequently there was quite a lot of debate as to whether the books were appropriate for younger readers, with some graphic and ghoulish images and references to occult practices, wizardry and such. Several times we borrowed a volume or made a trade because our copies had been lost.

Looking back now, the gamebooks still have some appeal. I find they are the right length for a transatlantic flight and are easy to carry around. And they are still hard!

What initially piqued my interest twenty years later was that all the gamebooks were reissued by Wizard Books beginning in 2002, and new stories were forthcoming from the original authors. The internet has spawned a large number of websites devoted to the books and the worlds they created. For example there is a great collector site here and a good overview of the series here.

The original books can usually be found on eBay, and the reissues are currently widely available from online stores such as Amazon.

Wikipedia entry

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Random 80's Wednesday

Martin Ansell - The Englishman Abroad (from The Englishman Abroad, 1986)
Zaine Griff - Figures (from Figures, 1982)
Rational Youth - Heredity (from Heredity, 1985)
Peter Schilling - The Different Story (from The Different Story, 1989)
Kim Wilde - Water On Glass (from Kim Wilde, 1981)

Spot the odd one out. (It's really not that hard).

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everybody. I had in mind a track to post but for the life of me I could not remember who sang it. Then, at the last minute, I was looking for something else and found it. May 2008 bring you all peace, happiness and jelly babies. And thanks again for reading my blog!

The Beautiful South - This Will Be Our Year

Bonus: My favourite track from the same album, Golddiggas, Headnodders & Pholk Songs

The Beautiful South - This Old Skin