Cover Versions, entire show, Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find, Peel Sessions

David Gedge! 25 Years In the Business! Yay!

Keeping It Peel is the brainchild of the good persons over at Football And Music. To honour the memory of the late great John Peel, Football And Music has decreed October the 25th “a sort of John Peel Day, but for bloggers.” Like many of the blogs listed on the Blogroll down there on the right, I’m in. It seems the right thing to do – as a music-obsessed teenager I listened religiously, finger sweating on the ‘pause’ button of my music centre waiting patiently to catch and magnetise some of those brilliantly weird and parent-bothering new sounds floating through the ether and onto my crappy cheap Boots C90s. I quickly developed the skill of being able to depress the ‘pause’ button in that wee space just between JP stopping talking and the record starting. In hindsight, I wish I’d been less skillful, as I’d love to listen back to those old tapes and be able to hear some of what he was saying. I still have some of the tapes up the loft. I should really get them down and have a wade through them sometime. Y’know, without John  Peel etc etc blah blah blah…

So, what to post? Much of the stuff I enjoyed on the Peel Show (roughly about 3 records an hour if I’m being honest) ended up being the stuff recorded by my future favourite bands. You know who they are, they’re the same as yours. I could be wilfully obscure or wilfully elitist, but in keeping with the unpretentious nature of the band I’ve chosen to feature, I won’t. The ubiquitous Fall may be forever linked-uh with John Peel, but to me The Wedding Present are just as big a deal – he gave them plenty of opportunity to record sessions for his show and they seemed to appreciated the platform he afforded them. Peel’s listeners clearly appreciated them too – they had a massive 45 tracks included throughout the years in Peel’s Festive 50s, a feat only bettered by, aye, The Fall.  And besides, David Gedge is the nicest pop star I’ve ever met – you can read all about it here.

Fan snap shot of The Wedding Present, Glasgow Barrowlands

(you can tell by the white tiles on the ceiling) 1988

Their session from the 24th May 1988 is my favourite Wedding Present Peel Session. This is the sound of a band no longe ramshacklingly scrubbing tinny guitars with brillo pads and replaying the reults through cheap amplifiers. This is the sound of a band who’ve managed to recreate their favourite sounds of alt. America in their live set – low rumbling bass that sounds as if it’s balls have dropped, meatier guitars played through proper amplifiers; tight, taut, tense, terrific. They would later go on to replicate this sound on their masterpiece LP, major label debut Bizarro (aye, forget the George Best album. No tears now.)

The 24.5.88 session is almost the perfect session. As was often the norm at these sessions, the band recorded 3 brand spanking new songs and one sparkling cover version. Nowadays, those three spanking new songs would be all over the internet the moment the last screech of feedback had died out and would have been digested, discussed and dissected by chat boards from Bradford to Berlin and beyond before breakfast. In pre-internet days, the C90 and your ‘pause’ button were your only friends. Fearful of taking a toilet break (Misty In Roots was my calling card every time), you captured what you could and replayed it the next day and more until the tape started to sound a bit wonky. Over time of course, this only added to the charm of a clandestinely captured Peel Session. It was often something of a shock to hear the ‘new’ song for the first time on the band’s album and finds that it didn’t slow down and speed up during the last chorus. Kids today with their mp3s, huh? They don’t know what they were missing. The 4 tracks I captured in all their hissy glory?

  1. Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now? (with ‘single‘ written through it like a stick of Blackpool rock, it was released on 7″ 4 months later. It even ended up being recorded and released in French)
  2. Unfaithful (workmanlike strumathon, eventually saw the light of day on the b-side of Kennedy (October 89 – Number 33  in the proper, real Hit Parade, pop pickers!)
  3. Take Me! (introduced by the DJ as Take Me, I’m Yours, released as Take Me! on Bizarro just under a year and a half later, this is a terrific indication of where the post George Best Wedding Present were heading (major labels, Steve Albini, America, Top of the Pops, my fanzine…))
  4. Happy Birthday (Altered Images cover, complete with Marilyn Monroe singing to JFK, “Happy Birthday Mr Pre.Si.Dent“. at the start)

Take Me, I’m Yours was my favourite. Over 8 minutes long, it featured an extended outro complete with Status Quo riffing, not the sort of thing expected from yer Wedding Present at all. The band must’ve been in on some Quo-related in-joke, for on Happy Birthday Gedge gleeefully shouts, “Status Quo, 25 years in the business!” and the band all cheer. It still tickles me today. The session tracks above are taken from my shiny, pristine Wedding Present Peel Sessions Box Set. Free of any FM hiss and missed guitar riffs they (cough…ahem) Present the Weddoes in the best possible way. I’m amazed that the Marilyn Monroe intro to Happy Birthday has been retained. I’d’ve thought that would’ve cost an arm and a leg to get the clearance for, perhaps even more than the expected return after selling however many copies of the box set they expected to sell. This music, after all, was recorded by a band who once sold a t-shirt proudly proclaiming in big black letters, ‘All The Songs Sound The Same‘. Who wants to sit through 12 John Peel Sessions over 6CDs in the one sitting? Only a fool. But a fool with particularly good taste.

The official Wedding Present website seems to be no more is here, and this excellent fan site has all you need and more. The image above, of David Gedge’s handwritten lyrics and guitar chords for Unfaithful and that shot of the band at the Barrowlands were taken from there. Thanks, Something And Nothing website!

*Bonus tracks!

Woah-woaw! Just cos it’s a cracker, here‘s The Wedding Present’s version of Orange Juice’s Felicity (Peel Session #1, 11th February 1986)

I used to have a few complete Peel Shows from the late 60s and early 70s which I’d have loved to make available for download here, but following the disaster that was the Great Hard Drive Crash of 2007, this is no longer possible. Instead, I offer you this – the complete 1971 David Bowie Peel Session. Some of this (crucially, not all of it) made it onto the Bowie At The Beeb CD set a few years back. Plenty of chat from Peel (and Bowie for that matter). Get it while you can.

entire show, Live!

Get Back! Get Back! Get Back to where you once belonged!

You may have noticed things have been a bit quiet ’round here lately. An extreme bout of lethargy/cannae be arsedness coupled with actual real work being a bit hectic has lead to a slow down in the proceedings. But, for what it’s worth, I can safely say “I’m back“. So too, you probably noticed, is old thumbs aloft himself, the strangely auburn-coiffured Paul McCartney.

 Beatle Bum

I gulped a huge gulp back in March when I hit ‘return‘ and ordered 3x £85 tickets. I nearly refused to pay in private protest at what could only be described as extortion. A superstar going through a high profile divorce meant only one thing – in a round about way I was paying for his youngest daughter’s designer clothing and private schooling. But just as quickly as I thought this, I thought of myself moping around the house on the night of the gig and how I wish I’d just gone. My 15 year old self did this very thing when The Smiths rolled up to my hometown as part of their Meat Is Murder tour. “Oh mama, let me go!“. “OK“. “Really? I thought you’d say no.” So, just to be contrary, I didnae go. 25 years later, it still tortures me. So really, there was no way I’d miss this. And thank fuck (sorry) I didn’t.

After sitting through Sharleen Spiteri’s Asda Price Stax/Volt Revue – group dressed by Top Man, mind stopped from wandering purely by ogling the highly shaggable Spiteri (sorry again – to paraphrase one of our Scottish politicians, it must be this hot weather), McCartney came wandering onstage to huge applause. A brief malfunctioning guitar meant that he started with a hiccup rather than a bang, but once he was off and running……. oh man…..he was really off and running!

Little Beatle Paul in his little Beatle Boots

For as long as I’ve been into music, I’ve obsessed over these songs and here they were being played out right in front of me, 12 rows from the front of the stage, no need at all for that big video screen just there. I’m into double figures for Dylan gigs. Old Bob expects you to sit there and listen in reverential silence as his ever-decreasing-in-talent pub band grind their way through another 12 bar version of Maggies Farm. I’ve seen the Stones, Jagger and Richards playing some pantomime version of the ugly sisters as they karaoke their way through their back catalogue. McCartney knows exactly what his audience are here for and he stands and delivers. From backbeat boot stomping Cavern Classics (All My Loving) to White Album genius (Blackbird, Back In The USSR, Helter!! fucking!! Skelter!! (sorry again) to Wings Greatest Hits, it sounds amazing. The band replicate every last note, every last harmony and even when McCartney hits the bum notes on the piano during Let It Be, or fluffs some finger picking on Blackbird, or goes a bit flat on the harmonies of Paperback Writer (really!), it makes it somehow all the more real. Live. In front of you. It’s like going to see the Bootleg Beatles, except, well, it’s almost yer actual Beatles.

(my own video – link newly uploaded – may take a few minutes before it works)

Highlights were too numerous to list – but the whooshing jet sound at the start of Back In The USSR had the hairs on the back of my neck standing to attention. Live And Let Die‘s firework n flames display almost set fire to the same hairs a few minutes later. Even the toasted cheese on top – a pipe band marching on halfway through Mull Of Kintyre was gobsmackingly magic. The whole thing finished with the Sgt Peppers reprise before segueing into The End, complete with drum solos, rocktastic duelling guitars (no bass, as you’ll see from the video clip below – weirdly I had to upload it to YouTube before I could show it here) and the final harmonies from a croaking Paul McCartney. Really, this show was over the top brilliant. But, if you’ve read this far you knew that already.

 

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make

demo, entire show, Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find, studio outtakes

You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone

Poor Brian Wilson. Deaf in his right ear after his dad Murry had uncharitably clouted him, he suffered more than his siblings at the hands of this hard-to-please man. A somewhat failed song writer (doo-wop songs his ‘speciality’) Murry Wilson was the Beach Boys manager/co-producer/arranger in those heady surf-filled, drag-racing days.

Much like those dads of today who coach frantically from the side of the pitch while their 13 year old chases a ball around, he lived the dream through his sons. He constantly obsessed over every facet of the Beach Boys, from their appearance and stage presentation to the lyrics and songs themselves. A traditionalist, he undoubtedly gave Brian an ear (only one, mind) for a melody, by playing him Gershwin non-stop from an early age. He had him take accordion lessons. He forced him to sing solo in the church. He certainly pushed him in the right direction, as Brian became as obsessive about the power of music as Murry.

Brian was prodigious. He studied vocal group The Four Freshmen, replicated their individual vocal parts on the piano and worked out how to make a group of voices sing in 4 part harmony. From this, The Beach Boys were born and the rest, as you already know, is history. Have a listen to this, but be prepared to sit down and listen closely. You won’t regret it. It’s a complete reel (40 mins) of The Beach Boys recording Help Me, Rhonda. Hot on the heels of I Get Around it would go on to become the group’s second US Number 1, but not before three painstaking recording sessions. The Help Me, Rhonda session available here was recorded probably on the 8th or 19th January 1965, depending on the sources you read, and is famous in Beach Boys circles because the session is constantly interrupted by a menacing Murry, breaking in on the studio microphone and berating the individual members of the group for their sub-standard performances. For the most part he’s right too!

“Brian. Fellas. I have 3000 words to say. Quit screamin’, start singin’ from your hearts, huh? You’re doing fine now, watch your ‘ooohs’, come in on the low notes Mike. Carl -‘oooh’ – you’re ‘eugh!’ Come on! Dennis – you’re flatting. OK Mike. You’re flatting on your high notes. Let’s go. Let’s roll. So you’re big stars. Let’s fight, huh? Let’s fight for success. OK. Let’s go. Now loosen up. Be happy. Forget the people in here……..turn the lights out in this room. Turn the lights out in this room… they see so many people…OK fellas. You got any guts? Let’s hear ’em!”

Brian (from across the room) “Dad. only 82 words.”

Murry “I said 3000. Come on Brian. Knock it off! You guys think you’re good? Let’s go! Let’s go! Fellas. As a team we’re unbeatable. You’re doing wonderful Al. I’ll leave, Brian, if you’re gonna give me a bad time…..”

Brian “I got one ear left and your big mouthed voice is killin’ me!”

Murry “I’m sorry I’m yelling. Loosen up Al, watch your flatting…….”

And on and on and on it goes, between a zillion perfect and not-so perfect short burts of Help Me, Rhonda. Mike is flatting those high notes. Al is flatting those low notes.

Al. Al! Come in to it. About an inch and three quarters. Or two inches closer. Either sing out louder or come in closer. And e-nun-ci-ate! When you sing ‘Rhonda’ make it sexy and soft. “Rhonda you look so fiiiine!” OK?” At this point you hear an unconvinced  “hmmmm” from someone at the microphone.

And still it goes on.

“Brian. Your voice is shrilling through everybody. Carl. We can’t hear Carl. We can hear Dennis but we can’t hear Mike. And we can hardly hear Al.”

At one point Murry points out that “I’m a genius too, Brian!” Incredible! This is history in the making and we’re party to it. Incredible! Something recorded 45 years ago exists in the quality it does. What strikes me most about listening to the tape is that although Murry clearly likes the sound of his own voice and isn’t shy of pointing out the group’s failures, the group themselves know when a take has been a bad take. They don’t need Murry to tell them. You can hear them berate one another for being flat, quiet, missing their intro, whatever.

Brian actually appears in control of everything, despite his Dad’s close attentions. The session ends with Brian and Murry having a quiet arguement, Brian asking for an atmosphere of calmness, “are you going now?”, Murry commenting that “just because you’ve had a big hit…”. Brian puts up with his dad pretty well. This time. But no wonder it was only a few short months until he’d be watching TV and playing piano in a sandpit in his living room……..

Murry died in 1973. They say the devil has all the best tunes. I believe Murry is rearranging them as you read this.

TRIVIA FACT

Glen Campbell plays on this session. You’ll hear a wee bit of noodling and strumming throughout. That’s him!

Cover Versions, entire show, Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find

Alex Chilton

Fuck. Just heard the news. This keyboard is awash with tiny tears as I type. It’s always the way, but why do the good guys go first? I can’t believe I’m writing about Alex Chilton in the past tense. His music, especially with Big Star, means as much to me as Them There Beatles, it really does. Whether he was bedroom balladeering or bar-room bawling and balls-out rocking, his songs hit a nerve that jangled all the way to the auditory part of my brain like one of those fancy pants chords he could tease out of his guitar.

If you’re reading this you probably know all about him. Teenage Box Top. Cult hero in coulda been shoulda been Big Star. Producer of The Cramps. Friend and collaborator with fellow enthusiasts/obsessives Teenage Fanclub. All round nice guy, he wrote and recorded some of the best pop songs you’ll hear. Seek out #1 Record or Radio City or 3rd/Sister Lovers for proof. Sometimes bleak, often uplifting, always soulful. But you knew that already. Given our track record for celebrating the artist in death rather than life, Alex Chilton may yet become somewhat ironically a Big Star.

I’m glad I caught Big Star live. Just the once, when they first played Glasgow as part of their initial reunion tour. I stood on the balcony of the QM Union looking down onto the stage where Chilton led his band through non-hit after non-hit after non-hit. The crowd knew every word. So too did Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer of The Posies, similarly Teenage Fanclub-like in their obsessiveness about Big Star, and on-stage playing out their own version of Jim’ll Fix It on bass and guitar. Chilton himself played a mean guitar that night. And I mean mean in the economic sense. No frills, no pedals. Just him, a nice warm valve amp and a couple of vintage guitars. What a sound! Often overlooked in the scheme of things, Chilton was a fantastic guitar player – proof? – His version of My Baby Just Cares For Me is still up for grabs via this post.

He could play anything. Anything. Rock. Pop. Stax-inflected southern soul. Doo-wop. Jazz. E-nee-thing. He was a player’s player. A dude. And he once, sorry twice, played the 13th Note in Glasgow with Teenage Fanclub as his backing band. Naturally I found out about this the day after the second show. It was a Tuesday morning and a colleague from work casually mentioned it on the phone. Pre internet days, I’m afraid. Pissed off? You better believe it. Especially as the bootleg sounds amazing. Here‘s the entire show. No artwork. No tracklisting (I’m far too lazy/far too busy to type it out). First track is a rockin’ September Gurls. There’s covers of T-Rex, 60s pop standards and, yep, Stax-inflected southern soul. Get it and remember him this way.

Thanks for the music Alex.

Alex Chilton. December 28th 1950 – March 17th 2010

Cover Versions, entire show, Hard-to-find

All Tomorrow’s (Christmas) Parties

D’you think the irony has been lost on the three quarters of a million sheep-like Facebook users who’ve signed up to get Rage Against The Machine to number 1 with a song who’s main hook repeats “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” about 327 times?

A better choice of download for Christmas number 1 would be this, if it were commercially available. Beck does the Velvet Underground‘s ‘Sunday Morning‘. It’s gorgeous. It’s the first track on the Velvet Underground & Nico album. But you knew that already. It’s also the first track from the first album in Beck’s irregular Record Club, available to view in video form over at beck.com. But you probably knew that already too. He’s since put up the second instalement (Songs of Leonard Cohen), but, hey, you know me, Hardly hip to the jive, I’m always half a funky footstep away from what’s goin’ down with the kids.

The whole album has been recorded with an assortment of special guests, and it’s a pretty faithful re-recording. Bits of it sound like the Beta Band (especially the pots n’ pans rattling take on I’m Waiting For The Man) Other parts sound a bit like (dig the irony again) Spiritualized and Spacemen 3, two bands who’d arguably never have been born without a love affair with all things Velvet. Anyway, the whole thing is worth hearing. Download slowly and see, here.

See you later, gotta run run run. Ouch.

Cover Versions, entire show, Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find, Live!

Free Us From Nancy Spungen-Fixated Heroin A-Holes Who Cling To Our Greatest Groups and Suck Out Their Brains

Halloween’s Coming, Halloween’s Coming. Skeletons will be after you. No they won’t, but at least it gives me a half-arsed excuse to post some Nirvana on here for the first time.

I like Nirvana a lot. I’ve been going through something of a reunion with them every day in the car to work this week. They blow the cobwebs off before a hard day at the coal face, that’s for sure. Nevermind still sounds freakin’ A or awesome or whatever superlative those college frat boys would use to describe it back in the day. That the band became globally massive because of it (and ultimately why Kurt Cobain chose to blow his stupid brains out a few years later) is not up for debate. In 1991, music lovers needed something new and, unless you were Luke Haines (see Wikipedia, buy his bookNevermind arrived at just the right moment in time. In my own wee part of the world Joe Bloggs flares had become recognised as the joke they always were. Morrissey quiffs that had already been outgrown into crappy bowl cuts (mine included) were looking for another new hairstyle to approximate. Reni hats had been put to the back of the drawer and wouldn’t see the light of day until the wattery fart that was The Second Coming.  I’m sure your own wee part of the world was no different. Nirvana’s Nevermind blew all that away. And how. But you knew that already.

nirvana

I worked in Our Price when Nevermind came out. I had been there for 2 weeks. The album sold out the first day (the Our Price buying team at Head Office were notoriously frugal with first day orders – we probably had 5 copies to sell). The distributors couldn’t keep up with demand and it was a full week later before we had any more copies in stock. Round about this time, Nirvana played Glasgow University’s QM Union. An old throwback to the 70s rep visiting the store put the store manager plus 3 on the guest list for the gig. Magic. Except that the store manager didn’t want to go. “Heavy metal shite” was what he said. Seeing as he was the only driver, the fact that it would be a late show and that none of us knew anyone with a floor to go back to in the wee small hours, none of us went. I’m still pissed off about it to this day. Aye, Hollins. I’m talking about you.

kurt

Anyway…..On 31st october 1991, Halloween night itself, Nirvana found themselves playing to a hometown crowd at Seattle’s Paramount Theater. Nevermind was only about 2 months old by this point. Nirvana had just returned from a triumphant British tour (Grrr) and the band were far from the jaded, cynical version that would tour subsequent albums. Their set was captured by the sound desk in all its ragged punk glory. It was such a good set (see below) and recording that it was once mooted as an official live Nirvana release. The version of School from the show made its way onto the b-side of the Come As You Are single. If you have that at home, you’ll know how pristine, exciting and definitive a recording this is, but the rest of the tracks remained in the vaults until some enterprising bootleger liberated it and put it on the internet.

Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam
Aneurysm
Drain You
School
Floyd The Barber
Smells Like Teen Spirit
About A Girl
Polly
Breed
Sliver
Love Buzz
Lithium
Been A Son
Negative Creep
On A Plain
Blew
Rape Me
Territorial Pissings
Endless, Nameless

Try before you buy – here’s mp3s of Smells Like Teen Spirit and About A Girl. Good, eh? Now get the whole shebang here.

*BONUS TRACK!

A band who’s quiffs defiantly stand proud to this day – Glasvegas do Come As You Are. Downbeat, slow and wee Glasgow ned-like in delivery, it’s something approaching aural methadone (I imagine). S’good! Here ye go.

POST SCRIPT

After Kurt Cobain killed himself, Julian Cope took out full page ads in the UK music press denouncing Courtney Love. The ads were brilliant. I’ve searched in all the darkest corners of the internet, but I can’t find a picture of any of them. I’m sure Cope wrote a whole big long rant, but I can’t find anything other than the quote I used to title this piece:

‘Free Us From Nancy Spungen-Fixated Heroin A-Holes Who Cling To Our Greatest Groups and Suck Out Their Brains.’

But, yeah, you knew that already.

Cover Versions, entire show, Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find, Live!

Requests, Repeats and a Rockin’ Ringo Starr

I’d been meaning to re-post this excellent Beatles show a couple of weeks ago when the world was going Beatles mad and I re-posted the best of the Beatles posts I’d done, but somehow I forgot to upload it at the time and I thought, “Ach, I’ll do it later…” Spurred on by a request from reader FC3 (as well as other requests in the past) I’m re-posting it here, right now, today. The original files were deleted by persons unknown during the great DMCA clampdown of November 08. Don’t be surprised if the new files are also removed by the internet police. Act fast! What follows is the original post from November 2007  along with newly updated download links and an MP3 sample.

“WE LOVE DISTORTION!”

So sayeth John Lennon. I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything Beatles-related at all until now. This post more than makes up for it. The music contained herein is cracking. What makes it all the more amazing is that this recording is of a radio show and is over 40 years old. It’s amazing to think these recordings exist, let alone in good quality. God knows who originally recorded it, or how they recorded it, but somehow they did, and thanks to the wonders of the internet, it’s all here. First though, the history part.

 swedish_radio_show-front.jpg

In 1963, as a live phenomenon, The Beatles were at the top of their game. Their years of playing extended sets in Hamburg had taught them how to handle a crowd. Their own fantastic songwriting talent was emerging and many of these songs were yet to be committed to vinyl. In a couple of years time they would be a spent force on the live stage. Limitations in their equipment couldn’t match the increasingly bigger venues the band were playing. This show was recorded for Swedish Radio at Karplan Studios in Stockholm on October 24th 1963. It captures the Beatles playing their early 60s set, drawing on a mixture of originals and covers. From Paul’s “2, 3, 4″ count-in onwards, this set sounds like proto-punk. The playing is spot-on. The vocal harmonies are tight and Ringo’s backeat holds it all together. There’s a John one (From Me To You), a Paul one (I Saw Her Standing There), a George one (Roll Over Beethoven), a fast one (Money), a slow one (You Really Got A Hold On Me) and all the big hits (She Loves You, Twist & Shout). And it’s all in crystal clear high fidelity mp3 (!)

Hans Westman was the studio engineer for Swedish radio. “The worst recordings I’ve ever made,” he said. “Totally chaotic. No time for rehearsals.” The studio wasn’t best equipped for recording a ‘beat group’ and there were problems overcoming the UK plugs on the Vox amps. But once sorted, The Beatles simply plugged in and played. Westman couldn’t apologise enough for his poor sound, but Lennon loved this recording. “We love distortion!“ Not long before he died in1980 he said that these were the best live recordings The Beatles ever made.  And who can argue?

1. Introduction
2. I Saw Her Standing There
3. From Me To You
4. Money
5. Roll Over Beethoven
6. You Really Got A Hold On Me
7. She Loves You
8. Twist And Shout
 

You need this. It’s brilliant. Try before you buy? Here‘s an mp3 of Twist & Shout. The entire show is available here as a rar file., from me to you (arf).

swedish_radio_show-back.jpg

(Above)  back cover art (right-click and save)

(Below)Hans Westman’s original tape reel, signed by the fab four.

beatprot.jpg