This was an old Jam live single / EP I had, and put down in digital before selling my record collection. It was one of those Asian 7inches with a giant hole and a fiddly plastic inset to make it fit on normal record players.
1 – Move In Up (Curtis Mayfield cover, the Jam used to play this live all the time but never recorded it)
2 – Get Yourself Together (another obscure track)
3 – The Great Depression (from The Gift, great version)
4 – But I’m Different Now (from Sound Affects, also a great version)
I kinda think of this as an extension of The Jam Live album Dig the New Breed. Performances are pretty good although the singing gets rather wild in places.
The recording is scratchy, deal with it, I played the hell out of the record when I was fifteen and haven’t even tried to compensate on the mix I made on Cubase.
And I do like the BellRays quite a lot. At one point I was even considering getting a t-shirt. And I bought and album of theirs. From a store. Serious stuff.
But I get the feeling the band, particularly the guitarist and singer, already have all the top spots in their fan club taken.
I came across them a while back on an mp3 blog and was struck with the vocals and playing on “Hole in the World”, from an early album. Then I got hold of a later album Have a Little Faith and liked the single, “Third Times the Charm”, for totally different reasons. I was all prepared to buy into the band wholsesale when I started reading their press releases and promo guff…
Blues is the teacher. Punk is the preacher. It’s all about emotion and energy, experience and raw talent, spirit and intellect. Exciting things happen when these things collide. Bob and Lisa made the BellRays happen in 1991 but they weren’t really thinking about any of this then. They wanted to play music and they wanted it to feel good. They wanted people to WANT to get up, to NEED to get up and check out what was going on. Form an opinion. React. So they took everything they knew about; the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, the Who, the Ramones, Billie Holiday, Lou Rawls, Hank Williams, the DB’s, Jimmy Reed, Led Zeppelin, to name a very few and pressed it into service. It was never about coming up with a ‘sound’, or fitting in with a scene. It was about the energy that made all that music so irresistible!
Wow! Really? Hmmm. Does a soul garage band really need a manifeto? Do they need to state their raison d’etre so explicitly? Can’t you just, y’,know…form one and play? It’s only rock and roll, after all.
Subsequent reading on the internet has only backed up this impression that good ole Bob and Lisa and co take themselves WAY too seriously. I know this shouldn’t matter to me as a listener but it does. I can no longer hear a bunch of good musos and a big black lady who happens to have a very good voice. All I can now hear is a bunch of musos who think they’re doing this incredibly serious revolutionary thing and they’re not, led by a big black lady whose ego is so big it probably needs its own dressing room, separate to hers.
In summary: Listen to BellRays, they are good, but do not engage them in conversation or ever, ever read anything they say about themselves. If you want manifestos, try Marx.
I am always going on about Australian band HUNTERS and COLLECTORS to people, and they do not always get me.
Often, they are fellow Aussies who only became familiar with the band in the 90s, and they either know for their more commercial stuff, or they dismiss them for being too commercial. (It’s true, they became very pop-rock in the 90s, and even had a particular single that became very popular with Australian Rules TV broadcasters.)
Or, they are from outside Australia and haven’t necessary heard them, or, don’t realise how good they were.
So, I am here to solemnly swear and attest that circa 1986, this band were the best live band in Australia, and maybe one of the best anywhere. During that long and dubious decade where fads and synths and haircuts ruled, these guys chose to do pub rock, blues guitar and horn driven, melodic and percussive, rhythmic and funky, arty and loud, angry and funny and dangerously weird, and all fronted by Mr Mark Seymour, one of the best singer-shouters my country has yet produced.
The lyrics were Australian, and intriguing – holding down a D, fanging home to your girlfriend, girls with fingers like green ginger roots, all trucks and beers and memories spread out on the road – and this meant a lot to me, and it still does. So many “Australian” song-writers are basically just generic American-style country artists who bung in the name of an Australian town every so often, and they don’t actually sound like suburban Aussies at all. But everything about this music smelled of Footscray, the Hume Highway, and Cartlon Draught. Somehow they just got it.
I saw the band four or five times at the ANU Union Refectory or the upstairs section at the Uni Bar in Canberra, and once at the Trade Union club, and every time, they totally blew my face off. I have never seen a tighter band which somehow had such a loose, jamming energy. They could build tension like no other band I have ever seen (except maybe the Breeders and that could have been a fluke).
Don’t believe me? Well, first off all, ignore pretty much everything past Human Frailty (1986), which is their last fine studio record. There are other people who will buy their later work, so you and me can concentrate on buying the older stuff.
You should start with this record, The Jaws of Life, from 1984. The modern re-release includes the entire Payload EP, from 1982, Trust me, this is one of the finest Australian rock albums ever made. If Amazon are out of stock, keep trying, anywhere you can.
…legendary British post punk band Local Heroes (SW9) are back in the studio and recording a third album, this time going by the name Commoner.
This site is often pretty sleepy, but since singer-guitarist Kevin Armstrong has been hanging about here lately, site stats have jumped, and I am getting a lot of hits on my original SW9 post in which I sang the praises of their first two albums from 1980-81.
Who reforms a band after 31 years? A certain ode springs to mind….
They shall grow not old, as we grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
Although photographs of the trio on Kevin’s website do show the lads looking somewhat more aged than their previous incarnation but they ain’t no MTV boy band so who cares, right? Is the music any good?
The preview track from the forthcoming third LP can be accessed by going here.
What do I think? Hard to tell from only one track but I like it so far. The guitar and voice reminds me of King Crimson on the albums Beat and Discipline, which is a fair turn-around from the trio’s first two records, but who knows what they’ve been listening to in the last 31 years? Generally, the song has the same melodic intelligence that the first two records had, but the bass is playing less of a role, I miss that personally, I loved the bass playing on the other records.
Looking forward to hearing more to see how the whole thing is going to fit together.
Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill look like a couple of old geezers, don’t they?
Apparently they met in the eighties playing in a jazz fusion band – go figure – but found a mutual love for Irish music. I haven’t heard their first album The Lonesome Touch but I’d like to. I have this, their second album, on high rotation in the house and car. It puts me in a good mood most times I put it on. They have done other records, but not together, so I believe.
Hayes’ playing is kind of slower and less flamboyant than a lot of other Irish fiddle stuff I have heard, but there are soulful swoops and touches to replace the sound of the virtuoso’s burning fingerboard. But for me, Cahill’s playing is what really makes it work out. It’s all voicings of the same five or six chords we all play, but Cahill always picks the perfect inversion for the particular moment in the tune. And the sound he gets brings out echoes of harp, lute, and banjo, and goes well beyond the standard steel string strum-along that sits behind so much Irish fiddle playing.
All up, these guys are really worth a listen. It’s all instrumental and all quite slow and soft, but it’s groovy, too.
This particular tune is apparently a Scottish dance set but to me it sounds kind of American. I can see it as the instrumental track to some coming to America story, the first time an immigrant sees Boston, or something of that sort.
Incidentally, the chords / melody at the end of each verse are from an English trad tune called the Weaver and the Factory Maid. I love this song immensely, probably my favourite Maddy Prior tune. It was important to me at around the time my Dad died so I think that is why the lyrics to my version have ended up being about that.
A while back I made the mistake of downloading a “rare” previously unreleased Buzzcocks album from 1976, called Time’s Up, dating from when Howard Devoto was still singing for the band.
Why the hell do I do things like this?
Let’s look at the facts:
Devoto can’t sing as well as Pete Shelley and I really only like a few songs by his other band, Magazine.
The band had only been around for a year or less and the songs are all hasty demos.
The band chose to put out all the best stuff from this early period on the Spiral Scratch EP, including better versions of four of these songs.
The band chose not to release the rest of this recording, but instead went back into the studio to re-record the same songs from a full length album, with Shelley singing.
Howard Devoto left the band saying he was bored of their music
So, bad demos with a bored lead singer from a band who hadn’t really found themselves yet, and which they chose not to release. Obviously the smart thing to do would be to AVOID this record. So naturally I downloaded it and listened to the whole thing.