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Made Of Orleans

Ela Orleans is a Glasgow-based composer of experimental electronica. She has been releasing music under various guises for ages. She’s recorded scores for theatre productions, written an opera and lived in New York where she recorded avant-garde soundscapes and was on first-name terms with Thurston Moore. She’s just about the coolest figure on the Glasgow music scene right now, with everyone and anyone from Stephen Pastel to Ian Rankin lining up to sing her praises. Her latest offering, Upper Hell, is her 6th LP. She describes her music as ‘movies for ears’, which is just about the perfect summation.

Ela Press Photo 4

Upper Hell was produced by Howie B, the mastermind behind some of the most popular leftfield albums of the past 20 or so years. Tricky’s Maxinquaye and Bjork’s Homogenic both benefited from his magic touch, wrapped in warm ‘n woozy ambient textures whilst at times still sounding darker than Black Sabbath Vol. 4. Howie is the go-to guy when mainstream acts look to reinvent themselves – U2, Annie Lennox and Everything But The Girl have all called upon his services when looking to take their music on an unexpected turn. Howie ended up working alongside Ela after his sister played him some of her stuff. Ela didn’t have to go to Howie and ask to be produced. He found her.

I need to declare some self-interest at this point. Many years ago, Ela and my sister were friends at Glasgow University, and I’ve kept a close ear to her music ever since. She was once round for Christmas dinner when returning to her native Poland wasn’t an option and we had great fun at her expense as she thought in Polish but swore in English while playing charades or some other daft game no-one plays any other time of the year. I couldn’t have forecast at the time that at some point in the future she’d be sound-tracking my commute to work and my wheezing bike runs around Ayrshire, but this week she’s all I’ve listened to.

Ela Press Photo1
Upper Hell is terrific. It’s full of glitchy, twitchy electronica, organic bass lines and cut ‘n paste beats. In fact, it’s exactly the sort of thing Radiohead have been praised and derided in equal measure for – there are no ‘tunes’ in the traditional sense, but you can easily lose yourself in its ebbing and flowing digital soundscapes. There’s even a spoken word track (2nd one in, River Acheron) that, just like OK Computer‘s Fitter, Happier… I kinda know I’m going to skip before too long. If Thom Yorke had been involved in Dark Floor, the opening track, the internet would’ve simultaneously wet itself and melted.

Ela OrleansDark Floor

I was playing this last night and Mrs Plain Or Pan popped her head round the door, with a screwed-up look on her face.
This is Ela!” I said.
Does it get any better?” asked the missus.
No, it doesn’t,” I replied, with no hint of irony. “No. It doesn’t.”



Alternative Version, demo, Live!, New! Now!

Chain Reaction

At the end of my back garden there’s a fence. Down a steep slope behind the fence is the Ayr-Glasgow railway line. It’s a busy line, but you get used to the trains going past every 15 minutes. In  fact, you rarely hear a train. And when you do, you could set your watch by it. Scotrail. They’re getting there, or to Ayr and Glasgow at least, on time.

Now and again the silence is punctuated by the Hunterston coal train. The power station up the road needs regular feeding by coal and occasionally the train will be held up at the points while another commuter train snakes its way out of the suburbs and on into Glasgow. The Hunterston train doesn’t stop very easily. Weighed down by 35 coal-carrying containers, it starts braking 4 miles up the line in Dalry. By the time it reaches Kilwinning, and my back door, it’s making a cacophony of noise; grinding steel on steel punctuated by the odd hellish rumble, but mainly a horrible metallic screech that jars the nerve endings and sends cats and dogs running for cover. Around 9.30pm last night, it struck me that this is the wonderful sound of The Jesus And Mary Chain.

They were back on (almost) home turf over the weekend, pitched up at the Barrowlands to play the Psychocandy LP, track-by-track. It’s an album that rarely left my turntable when I was in my late teens, but not, I must admit, an album that has stayed with me in the way that other ‘Classic’ albums (insert your own here____________) have. Nonetheless, to hear it in its entirety was too good an opportunity to miss for myself and a couple of thousand other folk of a certain age.


The band began the show not with Just Like Honey and the rest of the album falling after, but with the encore. “We’re contrary fuckers,” explained Jim Reid. So as an aperitif we got April Skies, Head On, a twangin’ prime Velvets take on Some Candy Talking and a couple of tracks that I struggled to recognise on account of the vocals being buried so deep in the mix they were practically being sung from Australia.

At times William’s guitar was so out of tune he was practically playing jazz. Free, experimental jazz, and he knew it. I lost count of the number of times he attempted to tune up between songs. “Stop!” shouted his brother at one point, sounding uncannily like one of those early JAMC bootlegs I had from the days before they knew how to end songs, and the band came to a juddering halt, just like that train at the bottom of my garden. Recovering in time though, best of all was a head-splitting version of Reverence, replete with descending, fuzzed-up I Wanna Be Your Dog guitar riffs that went straight into a white-hot version of Upside Down. Top that, you’re thinking. And they did.

Taking no prisoners, they rattled through Psychocandy. Guitars sounded like sirens of war, or like a hundred bottles being smashed against a greenhouse wall in the middle of a violent storm. They felt like tiny hand grenades of pain on the ears. This was a full-on sonic assault and battery on the senses. Backlit by white light and strobes, at times I almost zoned out as the band, stock still in silhouette, never let up. Fast-cut film of motorbikes and 60s girls and staring eyes and melting things and swirling patterns and kaleidoscopic psychedelia played relentlessly. It was the Exploding Plastic Inevitable turned up to 11. Scratch that, it was turned up to 14 or 15. It was uncomfortably loud, perhaps just as the band intended it to be, but as I type there’s still a background screeeee to everything I hear.


It goes without saying of course that if you get the chance of a ticket when it comes to your town, make sure you grab it.

A coupla tunes from the Psychocandy LP:

Taste The Floor

The Hardest Walk

Just Like Honey demo

Darklands-era b-side Everything’s Alright When You’re Down

Pop music, pure and simple.

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In his unwavering pursuit of great music John Peel famously listened to every demo tape/self-financed flexi-disc/debut single/8 track cartridge and Wham recording that ever came his way. Peel was terrified he’d be letting down the artist who’d spent time and money ensuring a copy of their music found its way to his ears and that by not playing it he’d miss something of huge cultural importance, and so what began as a simple mission quietly and not-so-quietly (did you listen to Peel?) took over his whole existence.

I get sent lots of music. Tons of the stuff. I could easily fill the pages of Plain Or Pan with Scandinavian death/grime/sludge/hardcore, rootsy Irish Coldplay soundalikes, a gazillion quirky identikit indie bands based anywhere between Inverness and Idaho and enough wishy washy ‘soulful’ singer/songwriters to break you out in an irritating rash of Adele proportions. Amongst the stuff that finds its way here there is no doubt the odd gem, but I am not John Peel and nor do I have his patience, listening dexterity or desire to unearth the next Velvet Underground. Have you read this blog? I’m still trying to unearth the first Velvet Underground. Plain Or Pan is first and foremost a retro-looking music blog, celebrating the records of the past for anyone who still cares enough about them. ‘Outdated Music for Outdated People‘ as the tagline says.

Today Plain Or Pan makes an exception.

medals practiceNever judge a book by its cover…

Medals are a thrilling new act. Initially a studio-based project from Ayrshire’s JP Reid, they come with terrific pedigree. JP’s first band Sucioperro (Spanish for ‘dirty dog‘, if my pidgin Spanish hasn’t deserted me) are 4 albums and several T in the Park appearances to the good. Not content with that, along with Biffy Clyro‘s Simon Neil, JP is half of Marmaduke Duke, 6 Music favourites and purveyors of wonky, skewed alt-rock. To say he’s been on the fringes would be something of an understatement. To say ‘Next Big Thing‘ might sound arsey if it wasn’t likely true.

Medals emerged towards the end of last year with a 6 month studio tan and an album (‘Disguises‘) that veers between Biffy-inspired riffage, weirdy/beardy bits and JP’s love of hip-hop and modern shiny pop. The whole thing has been put together solely by JP, who brought in other players and producers as and when he needed them. Think Prince, Beck, Peter Gabriel or David Byrne. Auteurs who have a vision, know what they want and how to get it. It sounds faintly ridiculous talking about a wild ‘n wooly Ayrshireman in the same terms, but that’s essentially what we have here.

That rinky dink white man-plays-Nile Rogers guitar coupled with the full-on phat fuzz bass and pitter-pattering percussion is total Prince. Not in sound, y’understand, but in vision, aye? There’s a lot going on in this record. Played once, it sounds very now. A shiny production that could quite happily find itself on the playlists of Radios 1 and 6, all synthesised beats and a rhythm track that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Foals or Vampire Weekend record. Play it a few dozen times and you’ll start noticing the subtle little things that colour the whole thing in, which all helps make Used To Be A Dancer one of the tracks of the year so far.

Down In The Well is one of a handful of big, anthemic Medals rockers, all punchy beats and razor-sharp riffs. The album might be full of little weird bits, multi-tracked vocals, unusual parts and clever use of percussion, but opening track Down In The Well leaves all that aside, kicks the front door in and goes for the jugular before leaving as quickly and unannounced as it had arrived, with dirty great footprints left behind in your cream carpet.

Hey! Is that a Trashcan Sinatras’ vocal sample in there? The girly backing vocals in The Therapist? It sounds awfy like it! Maybe not. Either way, Sit Back Down, Judas is perfect for radio, the ‘joyous pop rock‘ that JP was aiming at in the studio. Catchier than the cold in a classroom full of coughing kids, I’d love to hear it live while watching the lighting guy make the big white spots sweep up and over the audience as the chorus kicks in. Plinky-plonk glockenspiels vye for space with perfectly produced guitars and a boy/girl vocal. This is the track that all the girls’ll love as the sun sets on Glastonbury next year, I tell you.

As I type this, ears will be ringing in King Tuts as Medals make their live debut supporting Biffy Clyro. Next Friday (9th May) Medals play their first headline gig at Irvine’s Harbour Arts Centre. The wheels are turning on the Medals machine. Studio tans have faded and the band has been drilled and rehearsed as thoroughly as James Brown’s Famous Flames. Look out for them. JP has put together a proper band (not studio musos), but a band of friends who play together for the joy of it all. “Getting lost in music,” as JP says. “There are far too many ‘careerist’ bands. We’re playing for art’s sake first and not necessarily commercial success.”

There’s a real buzz about Medals. I don’t normally fall for this ‘next big thing’ nonsense, but in this case I think it’s a distinct possibility. They might be playing for art’s sake, but I don’t think it’s long until the commercial success comes their way. Medals, boys and girls. You heard about them here first.

You can find out more about Medals in all the usual places, including;

Bandcamp, where you can listen to and buy the album.

Soundcloud where cheapskates can listen to the album.

Facebook, where their upcoming set of gigs will be announced.

Twitter where the band are particularly active.



Cover Versions, demo, Gone but not forgotten, New! Now!

No Phils

let it be me 78

John Peel went through a phase of playing really old 78s from yesteryear. Ancient ghostly blues by unheard of singers long-since departed, popping and crackling away like one of my Gran’s heart attack-rich fry-ups. From out of nowhere they crept up on you, weird, wonderful and wonky. It might’ve taken you a couple of minutes to realise that there was any music playing at all, such was the understated beauty of it all. But before you knew it, there it was, under your skin and ingrained forever.

As if beamed in from another time and place, the music below has just slipped out into the ether…

Eddi Reader and wee brother Frank side by side at the piano singing the Everly‘s Let It Be Me with all the fragility of Bambi with a broken leg. It’s as fresh as the new year, yet sounds as if it was committed to shellac a century ago. Just like one of those old Peel 78s. It’s a heartfelt spontaneous tribute to Phil, recorded on iPhone and let loose on the breeze for anyone who happens upon it. I think it’s terrific.

Here’s another version…

The same song sung at the same session, this time the recording is taken from Frank’s iPhone. More Frank than Eddi on this version. And there’s nothing wrong with that. A bedroom Spector somewhere could probably jigsaw the 2 tracks into one. Over to you..

Here‘s the Everly Brothers’ original:

phil everly

Dig out a dram, play all the tracks above back to back with The Smiths’ Asleep and there’s your Friday night in right there.

Cover Versions, Hard-to-find, Kraut-y, New! Now!

Slanging Match

So the new Primal Scream album’s here and before a note had been heard, the knives in this house were already being sharpened. From the rubbish cover that looks as if the work experience boy was given a generic shot of Bobby and 10 minutes with a laptop, to the list of cliches masquerading as song titles on the back – River Of Pain, Culturecide, Tenement Kid, Invisible City, Goodbye Johnny, Elimination Blues – I had this album down as a stinker, another one of those disappointing albums the Scream have been turning out with increasingly diminishing returns since the high watermark of the double decade-old Screamadelica.

ps 2013

But y’know what……..?

It’s not all bad. In fact, some of it’s pretty good. And bits of it are really very good indeed. Opener (and lead single) 2013 seems to have split opinion amongst the critics, and at 9 minutes long, it’s not perfect radio fodder, but I like it. Bobby’s clearly determined to write an era-defining chronological anthem (think Stooges 1969, or Stooges 1970 come to that, or 1977 by The Clash). It reminds me of golden-age Psychedelic Furs, if they ever actually had a golden age, replete with a rasping saxophone line not heard since The WaterboysA Girl Called Johnny. Very similar, Bobby. Very similar indeed. Elsewhere, vocals are whispered where previously they were mangled into that accent that was more yer actual Florida then Mount Florida. Acoustic guitars flutter against a backdrop of We Love You-era Stones psychedelia. Keyboard swells and electro bloopery compete with Zeppelin drums and turned-up-to-11 Les Pauls through Marshall stacks. Textured. That’s the word I’m looking for. More Light is a textured album. A textured album that’s about 4 tracks too long, but never mind. Is it obtuse of me to say that, for me, the best tracks are the bonus tracks? They’re certainly the most interesting by far.

Nothing Is Real/Nothing Is Unreal (above) is terrific – a proper motorik, Krauty groover that really benefits from David Holmes’ polished sheen. If the whole album was like this, we may be saying it’s the best Primal Scream album since Screamadelica. Actually, the publicity surrounding the album would have you believe that, but this track is truly wonderful.

For Record Shop/Store Day this year, Primal Scream brought out a 12″ of them doing Sonic’s Rendezvous Band‘s City Slang. Sonic’s Rendezvous Band was a mid 70s alt-supergroup, formed by Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith of the MC5 and featuring Scott ‘Stooges’ Asheton amongst other garage band no-hit wonders. City Slang is a pretty intense piece of proto-punk, full of elastic band bass, cheesegrater-thin guitar solos and a stu-stu-stuttering chorus, a testifyin’ punk rock call to arms. Heard once, never forgotten. Heard for the first time, it’s one you’ll want to play again and again. Just as well the original 7″ has the same song on both sides – wear out one set of grooves and you’ve still got another to batter the hell out of. That SRB had only one track was neither here nor there, City Slang remains something of a masterpiece. It also happens to be one of Alan McGee’s favourite records, as he told Plain Or Pan a year or so ago.

Best ever punk rock single, as he so succinctly put it. You can read more about Alan McGee’s favourite records (something of a Plain Or Pan scoop at the time, though you wouldn’t know from reading it) here.


Anyway, Primal Scream’s version  is a faithful-to-the-original, full-on heads down punk rocker. For men pushing 50 and more, this is either admirable or rather sad. I’ll let you be the judge on that one.

Contrast And Compare:

City SlangPrimal Scream

City SlangSonic’s Rendezvous Band

Cover Versions, New! Now!

Is This It?

(Subtitled What Is This Shit?)

It was those opening words of his review that got Greil Marcus fired from Rolling Stone magazine in 1970 following his slaying of Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait. A hotchpotch of bewildering cover versions, syrupy reworkings of his own back catalogue and bizarre odds ‘n sodds so far removed from the Bob of 2/3/4 years earlier as to place the 1970s Bob firmly in the ‘has-been’ category, we can, with the benefit of hindsight apprecaite Marcus’ review for what it really was – a passionate attack on an act once so revered and vital but now finding themselves in the midst of creative meltdown. If you’ve ever experienced the disappointment of your favourite band so spectacularly failing to deliver, you should take the time to read it.

the strokes

And so to The Strokes. Is This It came out 11 and a half years ago (the day of the 9/11 bombings, same day as the Zim’s Love And Theft, if I remember correctly) and was a perfect summation of everything The Strokes had worked to by that point. NYC rich kids, a contradiction of expensive continental schooling and extensive dress-down grooming, they took the blueprint of all that was great with mid 70s Noo Yoik noo wave and ran with it in a scramble of battered Converse and 28″ waists. A garage band, a proper we-can-play-our-chops garage band, they burned their way through a handful of lean, mean, rattlin’ and rollin’ tracks, every one more vital than the previous one. Their look, their sound was nothing new. It was nothing clever. But it was terrific. Last Nite was my favourite.

Last Nite (from debut The Modern Age ep):

Last Nite came complete with the sound a million bands who’ve ever played live in front of a ghetto blaster set to ‘record’ will recognise – that of the sound of the snare drum rattling from the vibrations from the ambience in the room. It takes me right back to ear-splitting band rehearsals at Shabby Road even as I type. With doe-eyed Julian and his Benylin-through-a-bullhorn vocal and fab drummer Fab Moretti about to embark on a relationship with A-lister Drew Barrymore, they fairly set the loins alight of many an impressionable female. They had the licks. They had the looks. They had it all and the world was their oyster.


Fast forward to 2013. The Strokes’ 5th album, Comedown Machine, has just been released. I’ve lived with it since the end of March and, well, Letdown Machine would perhaps have been a more appropriate title. It’s not exactly a surprise – the last couple of albums have been nothing but weak filler propped up by the occasional FM-shiny belter, but Comedown Machine has no redeemable features. None at all. Leaving behind the myriad of 70s influences that made The Strokes what they are, they seem to have discovered the 80s. And not an 80s where demi Gods such as John McGeoch and Julian Cope and Ian Curtis and (insert your own idol here) provided a real alternative to the rubbish filling the airwaves, but an 80s of Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine and Linn drums and Rubik’s Cubes and shitty day-glo socks. It wasn’t very good then and it isn’t very good now.  In short, it’s a horrible car crash of electro bleeps and synthesized drums (synthesized drums! Poor Fab – whatever happened to the Clem Burkeisms he was so good at?)

the strokes 2013

Looking at this, whatever you’re thinking, I’m thinking it too.

Before any singing starts, the opening track sounds like a demo of Beyonce’s Bootylicious, all pitter pattering drum machines, jerky Super Mario melodies and FX heavy guitars. On paper, that might sound interesting. Good, even. It’s not. Lead single One Way Trigger shamelessly appropriates the hook from A-Ha’s Take On Me and petres out in a cascade of falsetto singing and electro handclaps. Gads. Throughout, you’ll hear the sound of a band as bloated and insignificant as Duran Duran, playing Strokes by numbers with diminishing returns. I’ve tried hard to like it, I really have. But, nah, The Strokes have lost it. The most interesting track 50/50, with its backwards effects and repetitive computerised guitar parts sounds an awful lot like Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s Music For A Found Harmonium. Penguin! Cafe! Orchestra! Now there’s something you never thought you’d read. What is this shit indeed.

Contrast & Compare:

Music For  A Found Harmonium:



Hard-to-find, Kraut-y, Live!, New! Now!

Can o’ Worms

This Record Store Day thing really grates eh? Who’s at fault? The record companies, who see the event as a way to fleece the record buyers out of every last penny they have and set sky-high dealer prices, thus forcing retailers to charge daft prices for (mainly) old records? Or the record buyers themselves, who see the event as a way to fleece less-fortunate record buyers who have neither the means required nor the availability of a local record shop to go to in order to buy what they want and are forced to take to the internet in a desperate attempt to secure the objects of their desire from people who neither know about or care about the records they are punting?


Five minutes after the shops opened and eBay’s suddenly full of the things everyone wants, available from twenty five different private sellers at twenty five times the original prices, and the internet is bulging at the virtual seams with sob stories from seething, seasoned record buyers unable to get their sticky fingers on the records they so desired.  They’ve scanned the lists in March and written and re-written their wishlist into 3 columns; ‘Ideally…’, ‘Hopefully…’ and ‘I cannot leave without this…’ but still ended up only with the last sticker from the acoustic act playing in the corner and a crumbly cup cake from the beardy guy behind the counter who’s job it is to say, “Sorry mate, that’s sold out too,” over and over and over and over until the end of the day. They’ve even emptied the kids’ piggy banks and forced them to eat beans on toast for a month, but that counts for nothing. Come April and the Day itself, they got up half an hour after going to bed in an effort to get as close to the front of the snaking line outside Shady Dave’s Second-Hand Sounds as they possibly could, to no avail. It’s a long line, but the ‘good-time vibe’ in the queue (“Aye, I’m after the Elliott Smith 7″ and the Pulp 12″ and the Big Star outtakes LP too, pal…”) is such that standing hunched up in the rain and the cold with Angry Birds and a quickly-decreasing battery charge on the phone for company are just about tolerable, as hopeful prayers of over-priced, limited edition bits of plastic are messaged to the great vinyl god above.

By the time the doors are unlocked by Shady Dave himself (who knows that only today, this one day of the year, is the make-or-break that might allow him to trade until next year’s big day), wads of money are jumping out the pockets of middle aged men and being flung towards the counter in exchange for a one-off Flaming Lips LP or a White Stripes coloured vinyl or an old Paul McCartney track re-pressed in glorious retro fashion. It’s ridiculous. Especially as that guy in the expensive puffa jacket and beige chinos (not yer average Wedding Present fan, you muse), who happened to be at the front of the queue was royally loaded and bought every copy of the German language 10″ And whatever else he thought he could off-load for a profit. “How many Bowie did you get? I’ll take them all.” It’s the new model for the spineless, the shallow and the touts who already rake it in from selling high-demand concert tickets. Have you checked those eBay sellers addresses? Sorry for the sweeping generalisation, but are they all in Merseyside? Call the cops…

can malkmus

Anyway, for what it’s worth, I’d have quite liked the live Stephen Malkmus does Can thingy. And the Elliott Smith 7″ and the Pulp 12″ and the Big Star outtakes LP too, pal, but I was nowhere near a decent record shop and was being Dad for the day while the missus went off for a belated birthday afternoon with her pal. Plus I don’t have the spare £40 or so that would’ve been necessary to procure them, had I been game enough to try and buy them. A quick scroll through eBay tonight and the Elliott Smith 7″ is selling for £15, as is the Pulp 12″ . The Big Star LP? That’s currently around the  £40 mark, but given that almost 20 folk are after it, it’ll probably take a bid of around £100 to secure the bloody thing. That Malkmus/Can album has attracted a dozen or so bids and is already pushing £40 itself. The vinyl would be nice, but I’m just as happy for the moment with the illicit mp3s I found whilst poking around the darker corners of the internet. It’s not ‘real’. It’s not holdable. It’s not warm and friendly analogue. But it was cheaper than cheap. I’ve always preferred Can at their grooviest and Malkmus does a good job. Contrast and compare…

Can  – I’m So Green

Stephen MalkmusI’m So Green

CanVitamin C

Stephen MalkmusVitamin C

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Get This!, Hard-to-find, Kraut-y, New! Now!

Skeletal Family

Vini Reilly is the public face of The Durutti Column, the first signing to Tony Wilson’s nascent Factory Records way back in 1978. Forever pasty-faced and ill-looking, he’s as wiry and fragile as the high ‘e’ string on his guitar, and on the rare occasion when this Wythenshaw will o’ the wisp pops his head out in public, he’s quietly spoken and totally intense. Clearly, he prefers his music to do the talking.

The Durutti Column’s first album, The Return of the Durutti Column was produced by Factory in-house knob-twiddling hedonist Martin Hannett on clear instruction from Reilly that he didn’t want ‘the usual, horrible distorted guitar sound.‘ What followed was a heady mix of chiming beauty, pastoral fragility and neo-classical intensity. All instrumental, and almost all featuring only layers of Reilly guitar, with the odd rudimentary skittering drum machine or piano part, the music is almost as revolutionary as the Spanish Situationists from whence Tony Wilson christened Vini’s band’s name. The music isn’t ‘rock’ or ‘post-punk’ or ‘jazz’ or any other obvious genre. It would be a huge disservice to lump it as (gads) ‘chill-out music’, but to these ears, in the same way that you could categorise someone like the Cocteau Twins, that is essentially what the music of The Durutti Column is. In later years, Tony Wilson would tell anyone who listened that at the end of a night at the Hacienda, he’d spark up a large one and mellow the wee hours away with The Durutti Column playing in the background. Vini’s music is perfect for this.

In one of the first great Factory marketing moments, The Return of the Durutti Column came packaged in a sandpaper-covered outer sleeve, intentionally designed to destroy any record sleeves you might have been careless enough to file besides it. If you happen to have one of those original LPs you may be interested to know that it was the four members of Joy Division who stuck the sandpaper onto each and every cardboard sleeve. I’m sure any decent policeman worth his salt could do some sort of DNA test to it if you asked- you might be sitting on a Curtis there! Or a Hook. (No luck).

Reilly was asked to produce Happy Mondays’ Freaky Dancing single, a choice that may have made sense musically, but personality-wise was a disaster. As Shaun Ryder says in his autobiography, “We initially tried recording with Vini Reilly but that only lasted about two hours before he decided he couldn’t handle us. I like Vini, and he’s a great guitarist, but he’s a bit of a weird one and everyone knows he’s a bit fragile. He once told everyone that I’d spiked him at the Hacienda, and the next morning I got phone calls from Wilson and other people at Factory having a go at me, saying stuff like, ‘Why did you do that to poor Vini? You know what he’s like,’ when I hadn’t even fucking done anything. It was all in his mind.

To quote Reilly – “I simply couldn’t work with them.”

A real musicians’ musician, he’s perhaps best-known for filling the substantial (desert) boots of Johnny Marr when The Smiths imploded. For the briefest of very brief moments, The Smiths looked like carrying on, until Morrissey decided otherwise. He instead roped Reilly in to play guitar on Viva Hate and, by chanelling his inner Marr, helped Morrissey’s solo career off to a flying start. But that’s a story for another day.

Durutti ColumnSketch For Summer

Durutti ColumnSketch For Winter

MorrisseyMargaret on the Guillotine

This post was all ready to go and then…

…my old pal DW put me onto Land Observations. “You’ll like them,” he said. “It’s just one guy and his guitar. No singing. It’s a bit motorik, a bit Krauty, with that sort of Michael Rother feel to it.” I quick listen on iTunes and I bought it….and I never buy anything from iTunes. But I had to have it there and then. And for the past week or so it’s been something of a constant on  the iPod. Motorik, krauty and sort of Michael Rother-ish, just as I was told. (A Soundcloud player should appear below. Please let me know if it doesn’t. It’s been a major headache trying to install it for some reason.)

It’s a concept album of sorts (hippies! prog-rock!), but stick with it. Loosely based on the journeys made along the Roman Roads of Britain, it’s the companion piece to an EP released last year. Unbelievably, given my instant love of the LP, I’ve still to buy the EP, but I will. The album, Roman Roads IV – XI, reminds me greatly of The Durutti Column – one guy who lets his guitar do the talking, no fancy pants widdly solos, just layered, textured, skeletal music that you can listen to, that makes you want to listen to it. And it sounds great through headphones. It’s currently at Number 3 in my ‘Favourite LPs of the Year’ list and climbing. Land Observations, folks. You’ll like them.

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Lightning Bolts ‘n Jessicarennis ‘n Andy Murray wins at Tennis

I’ll admit it. The Olympics have got me hook, line and sinker. From the opening ceremony onwards, via Wiggins’ magical time trial ride and the Scottish fella Jamieson who very nearly gubbed them all in the 200m breast stroke, until this weekend when Team GB have been picking up gold medals with all the carefree ease of Gladys and Agnes on a Tuesday morning at the pick ‘m mix in Woolies, I’ve sat, shouting sweary words of encouragement from the comfort of my sofa to people I had no idea existed a week ago. I was as cynical as many up here. Greatest Show On Earth? I don’t think so, pal. The Greatest Show On Earth is the World Cup. Everyone knows that. In no small part, my cynicism was due to Stuart Pearce’s (cough) Team GB football squad selection. A squad made up of numerous young Englishmen and a smattering of token Welshmen, with nary a Scot or Northern Irishman in sight. But more about them later. Yesterday was the opening game of the season for my team, Kilmarnock. It was a decent enough game, end-to-end, even, even if the BBC reported otherwise (their usual reporters have probably been deployed around the East End of London, I’d wager, and they’d been using some junior hack or other, not yet acquainted with the football normally played in the top league) yet I found my mind drifting back to events down south and couldn’t wait until half time in order to check the @TeamGB Twitter feed to see what I’d been missing. Good! My girl Jessicarennis was still burning the competition in the Women’s heptathlon.

It wasn’t long until I was home and catching up properly. Saturday night’s telly was sensational. But you knew that already. If you were watching ITV, silly you. If you were out, silly you. If, like me you whooped, hollered and punched the couch and the air and your wife with joyful abandon, you’ll know just how thrilling it was. When Jessicarennis lead from the front and came back strong and determined around that final bend; When the far-too-full-of-himself long jumper who’s name I’ve forgotten already messed up his last jump and bowed theatrically to the stadium; When Mo Farah, looking like someone Bob Geldof might be inclined to start an appeal for kicked his heels and dug out the strength to carry himself to victory; It was clear – that most dreaded of things, a feel good factor was suddenly everywhere. A ginger, a Muslim and a women of mixed race go into a pub. Everyone buys them a drink. I stole that from Richard Bacon. It’s a good one, eh?

Here in Scotland, following the manner in which oor ain Andy Murray casually disposed of Roger ‘The Greatest Ever‘ Federer, that feel good factor was multiplied ten-fold. Down south, people had a problem with Andy. He didn’t smile. He was dour in interviews. He battered his racquet around the court when things weren’t going his way. Good old stiff upper lip Tiger Tim Henman would never have displayed such vulgarities. Then, a month ago, the boy Murray blubbered like a big baby on the Centre Court and, well, some kind of thaw took place. It seems the public at large took him to heart. Today, when he climbed down from the Players’ Guests box and onto the scoreboard that declared his greatest ever victory, the wee boy who pushed his way to the front and shouted Andy back for a hug showed just how that feel good factor affects us all. That hug, as well as physical, was a metaphorical hug from all of Britain (but especially Scotland) to our own man.


The coverage on the BBC has been exceptional. This is what you pay your licence fee for. Handball over breakfast? Don’t mind if I do! Beach Volley ball at 10 in the morning? Oh aye! Easy on the eye! Beach Volleyball at 10 in the evening? Oh aye! Easy on the…but..hang on…they’re all wrapped up in, like, long lycra and jumpers and stuff. Damn that cold wind and British ‘summer’. Every sport is catered for and it’s all wrapped up and repeated if you happen to miss it first time round. One wee gripe? The commentators. Excellent and knowledgeable they undoubtedly are, they can also display an ignorance that cuts deep. It was that jumped up kids presenter Jake Humphries who did it first, during Team GB’s first women’s football match. “England this…England that….England the next thing“, and that’s a team that did have players from nations other than England in the starting 11. He said it about a dozen times. Then the normally reliable, likeable Lineker last night, “Well. So often before. And we’ve done it again. Out on penalties.” We, Gary? We? This is the first time we’ve ever entered a Team GB into any competition. We? You couldn’t possibly be referring to England, could we? The England who’s bottle crashes spectacularly at the merest whiff of a penalty shoot out? Did you not notice token Welshman and over-age player Ryan Giggs scoring there? Tut tut tut.  I’ll admit it, that’s why I took a tiny wee bit of satisfaction in seeing (cough) Team GB crash out of the football.

Anyway. This is supposed to be a music blog. The aptly-named Usain Bolt was pretty terrific in the 100m semi-final. The fastest man on Earth practically jogged over the line once he knew he’d qualified. Then the BBC ramped it up somewhat, with clocks counting down until the final itself. Re-runs of races from all angles. Slo-mo shots of Bolt goofing off to camera. And a 2 minute mini movie of the Best of Bolt for the majority of viewers who somehow knew that Bolt was The Man, yet were oblivious to his achievements to date. All sound-tracked by this. Lightning Bolt by Jake Bugg. One of my favourite singles of the year, it sounds like Bringing It All Back Home-era Dylan rattling his way through Bad Moon Rising, all nasal vocals and cow punk skiffle guitar. Like Bolt in the 100m final, it’s supremely self-assured, a blur, over before it’s begun, leaving the rest in its wake. Get it quick – I’ve a feeling the internet police won’t like it. But you will.

Beach bum.

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Blur(t) It Out

New track from Blur STOP Wonky guitars STOP

Catchy la-la-la chorus STOP

A bit of a grower STOP

(Crappy radio rip STOP Zane Lowe nearly makes an appearance on it STOP But will do until proper release, eh? STOP)

Breaking News! STOP Breaking News! STOP Breaking News! STOP

Under The Westway & The Puritan now available on iTunes for £1.49

(Crappy mp3s STOP Will do until promo CD makes appearance online STOP