Football, Hard-to-find

Over……..the party’s over.

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Oh well. Nearly but not quite. The nation goes back to work tomorrow and all the “I told you…“, “I knew all along…” stories will start. Screw them. We were great. Just not great enough.

The La’s were great too. I wish I could say that in the present tense, but it looks like Lee Mavers has become a bit of a 21st century Syd Barrett, living off his reported £5000 a month royalties from the one big hit single. These days you won’t see him on stage but you’ll see him at all the Everton games. The La’s were also famously fussy. Heid La Mavers abandoned so many recording sessions in his search for the mystical sounds that only he could hear. You all know stories and half-truths by now – the 60s dust, “the album’s terrible“, the threats in 2005 to re-record the album while a pile of classics remained unheard.

Over‘ is my favourite La’s song and its melancholy is perfect for the mood all Scottish football fans must be feeling. ‘Over‘ is also the track that Lee Mavers was most happy with, recording-wise. The version he liked best was the one recorded live in a stable on a battered old ghetto blaster. Of course. I’m kicking myself, because I had a 10 minute version somwhere that had loads of talking at the start and the end. John Power chants “Liverpool! Liverpool!” at one point and the rest of them talk about funny cigarettes and stuff. It was really great and when I came to find it for this post I realised it disappeared in the great hard-drive crash of summer 2006. Instead, this version was the one that was chopped from my 10 minute tape and ended up on the b-side of the ‘Timeless Melody‘ single in all its lo-fi glory. There’s also a fantastic version on The La’s BBC Sessions album. Taken from their Liz Kershaw session (31.5.88) it features a brilliant druggy sounding lead guitar part which was apparently overdubbed by Mavers as there were only 3 La’s in the studio that day. Overdubbed! That’s about as close as the La’s ever got to modern recording techniques. Here it is here. Listen out for the Russian chanting in the middle.

Lastly, another lo-fi ghetto blaster recording taped in Barry Sutton’s flat sometime in 1988.  Sutton was one of The La’s numerous lead guitar players and he and Mavers would get together and jam Beefheart-esque instrumentals, with the occassional daft lyric like this one. “Get on yer camel and riiiiide!” It sounds like it was recorded in the delta Mississippi in 1923, and was supposed to appear on the b-side of the ill-fated GoLas3 release of ‘Timeless Melody’ which never really saw the light of day. Mavers didn’t like it (!) and Go! Discs withdrew it very quickly at the promo stage. If you ever find a white label copy of it let me know and I’ll give you a fiver for it. Mavers loves ‘Ride Yer Camel’. And so should you.

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More La’s stuff here!

Cover Versions, Football, Hard-to-find, Peel Sessions

It’s great being Scottish

We’re top of our group, we’ve dumped the French twice and today we beat the Ukrainians 3-1. We are Scotland. We are magic. We are going to Euro 2008.

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Get your flat caps and clumpy shoes on and celebrate by dancing along to The Ukrainians folk-punk-polka versions of 4 Smiths tunes. The Ukrainians (the group not the football team) were formed as a side project to the Wedding Present. Guitarist Pete Solowka was of Ukrainian descent and when John Peel asked the Wedding Present if they’d like to do a session, the band recorded some traditional Eastern European folk music at the expense of their usual 100 mile an hour D-G-A strumalong. Truth be told, were it not for the Wedding Present connection, few people would have been all that interested. But thanks to this interest, Peel played the session over and over and the Ukranians went on tour. I saw them in Edinburgh (April 16th 1991) where the real Wedding Present played support and did an hours worth of brand new material. Then the Ukrainians came on and did their shouty punk-polka stuff.

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In 1993 the band released the Pizni ep, which featured 4 Smiths covers. They’re probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like unusual cover versions or are one of those mental Smiths completists, these are for you. I like how the melodies still come through, even though I have no idea what they’re singing. Except I do really, cos I know every Smiths song back to front. And now I know how to say “when her Walkman started to melt” in Polish. Useful that.

Batyar (Bigmouth Strikes Again)

Koroleva Ne Polerma (The Queen Is Dead)

M’yaso-Ubivstvo (Meat Is Murder)

Spivaye Solovey (What Difference Does It Make)

Roll on Wednesday night and another 3 points. Surely every Scottish football fan has Georgia On My Mind. The Band‘s version is fucking sublime. A bit like oor fitba’ team.

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Football

One James McFadden, there’s only one James McFadden

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Napoleon Bonaparte, Louis Pasteur, Claude Monet, Victor Hugo, Joan of Arc, Marie Curie, Gustave Eiffel, Thierry Henry, Jacques Chirac, Gerard Depardieu, Inspector Clousseau and Joe le Taxi. Your boys took one hell of a beating!

* (29.9.07) Boooooo! The legal people at YouTube have only gone and deleted the best-ever Scottish goal. Cochon!

Sonic Youth do Plastic Bertrand’s ‘Ca Plane Pour Moi’

‘Mon the Scotland!

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Football, Gone but not forgotten

Up shit Greek

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Liverpool the other night were beaten by a freaky goal, a classy goal, and by their own ineptitude at putting the ball in the net when they had the lion’s share of possession. I had this next musical treat all ready to go in the event of Liverpool winning, but it seems churlish not to put it up anyway. Back in the 80’s, Liverpool were my favourite English team. They had Souness, Dalglish and Hansen. The backbone of the team was Scottish and they were mainly unbeatable. When they won the European Cup against Roma in 1984, John Peel’s show was magic. It began with a burst of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, some church bells, some Mighty Wah! and Peel and Kid Jensen trading good natured bonhomie. In between you get some dub reggae (of course), some “exquisitly tastless” Anti Nowhere League and a bit of Ivor Cutler (of course). Peel was a big fan of Liverpool, so much so that he got married in a red and white suit.  Throughout the show he is in good spirits and full of emotion.

If you’re a Liverpool fan, listen in, stop greetin’ and hark back to the good old days. And if you’re not a fan, listen in anyway. It’s lo-fi quality and sounds a bit underwater at times, but radio gold all the same.                

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God bless John Peel