Birdland – Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger

This was originally written and performed by Patti Smith.  It is a song deliberately shock by it’s title and it was going to give credibility as it was by Patti Smith.   As they did not write the original song any backlash from the title would not be directed at them.  This cover is slated by most circles, but I like it. Birdland are an energetic firecracker and they carry the song off brilliantly, the whole song is driven by the relentless drumming. This was there last attempt to gain some credibility as they were already in decline .

It was number one in the indie charts, but all their singles were.  It failed to make the main charts.  The rest of the single is pretty standard fare. Not what you would expect from the peroxide four piece, that for a short time set the indie scene on fire.

Birdland : Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger
Roller Coaster
Fun Fun Fun


Echo & the Bunnymen – Evergreen

Back in June this year I got to see Echo & the Bunnymen at Bristol supported by Peter Hook and the Jesus and Mary Chain.  It was a broad spectrum of songs from throughout their career.  I first got into the Bunnymen with this album.  At the time I found their 80s material a bit dated (my view on this changed in later years).

It has maturity, and at the time it was released the bands in the scene had none of this. It was welcomed into the charts and probably picked up fans who delved into the back catalogue. Evergreen came out in 1997 and the last previous album by the Bunnymen came out in 1988.

In retrospect it has been panned by reviewers, as too commercially safe indie by numbers.  At the time I loved the album as much as Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space, Ten Rapid and Boy with the Arab Strap.  All these classics were released at the same time.  But Evergreen does not enjoy as many plays as the others now.

I did enjoy Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant’s other 90s outfit Electrafixion.  This showcased some really driven guitar piece by Sergeant I think the Bunnymen reformed because of the name. There is a fanbase around the Bunnymen that Electrafixion could not get a foothold in.

The cover of the album is very similar to Crocodiles. This is not the only nod to their back catalogue, Just a Touch Away has an orchestral part which is very like their album Ocean Rain.  Unaccredited singer Liam Gallagher appeared on the album in Nothing Lasts Forever. This is the best song on the album but it has nothing to do with the appearance of Liam.

Echo & the Bunnymen : Evergreen

Don’t Let It Get You Down
In My Time
I Want To Be There (When You Come)
I’ll Fly Tonight
Nothing Lasts Forever
Baseball Bill
Just A Touch Away
Empire State Halo
Too Young To Kneel

Sun Scream – Big Red Lazy Sun

Last week I had the pleasure of watching the Brian Jonestown Massacre play about 300 yards from where I live.  Supporting them were Sun Scream, I was really impressed with them and the show was psychedelically chaotic, not unlike Yerself is Steam era Mercury Rev.  I was mesmerised by bassists Tom Lawrence’s incredibly long fingers and the way they worked through the basslines.  After the the show I spoke to lead guitarist Emily Wallace and mentioned that I was a music blogger, I said that I write a piece about them.  She was lovely but probably thought I was after a free t-shirt.

I got in contact with the band and asked lead singer James Green a few questions and asked him to write a quick bio.  So I will hand you over psychedelic sonically distorted world of Sun Scream.

Psychedelic Rock band Sun Scream from Suffolk, release their new EP Big Red Lazy Sun on Vinyl Hunter recordings, telling tales of Lynchian nightmares and lone desert wanderers all soundtracked to their own brand of psychedelic rock. The band enjoys employing a DIY ethos, which is present with the release of this new EP. Lead guitarist Emily Wallace designed all the artwork for the both the record sleeve and the inner, perfectly illustrating the dusty and sprawling sound of this release. This new EP comes of the back of a successful year for the band: playing Latitude Festival, Rough Trade Recommends show and support for bands such as the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Levitation Room. A Big Red Lazy Sun is coming and Sun Scream hope you join them on their strange kaleidoscope picture puzzle journey.

What are you working on right now?  I know you are on tour but what else is going on? 

-We have just supported the Brian Jonestown Massacre which has been a dream come true for us! But we are on the verge of releasing our debut vinyl EP ‘Big Red Lazy Sun’ through Vinyl Hunter Recordings on October 27th! This is one of our most exciting moments as a band and we have put our all into to project. Our lead guitarist, Emily Wallace, illustrated the cover, labels, inner leave etc. We have limited edition coloured vinyl and release shows at Rough Trade East (October 24th) and Vinyl Hunter, Bury St Edmunds (October 27th)! We have a link on our social medias via a Justgiving page if anyone would like to pre-order!

What are the plans for the future?

Keep being prolific as possible: writing tunes, playing brilliant gigs and releasing our music and artwork! We have really built our band on a DIY ethos by putting on our own ‘psych nights’, designing our own merch and releasing Zines. I know festival season has just finished, but we would love to start planning next years season; we played Latitude Festival this year and that was amazing, so we would love more opportunities like that.

How do you feel about the internet in the music business? Does it give you a wider audience or does it encourage pirating?

For a band like us it helps massively! When you’re not a household name you can discover our music instantaneously. See our name on a gig poster, or in a record shop? Quickly discover us on a streaming platform! Of course, we always want to push physical format, as it is a more exciting form of media. However, the internet in the music business serves its place.

What new music do you like?

Emily is pretty involved with the Brighton Psych scene as she studies down in the city, see she’s many brilliant new bands and introduces them to on our radar. Something Leather, are really worth checking out as they have a ferocious organ driven sound. The new Kikagaku Moyo album is fantastic, great psych rock from Japan. Plus, Juniore from France are brilliant.

What are your are your influences and icons?

All the classic psych acts are a huge influence on us, both individually and as a collective. We all formed over a love of bands such as Pink Floyd, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Thee Oh Sees. Our drummer Jamie looks to drummers such as Mitch Mitchell from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Tom our bassist a Paul McCartney and Roger Waters feel. Whilst myself (James) find inspiration in bands such as Ride, Storm in Heaven era Verve and post rock acts like God Speed You! Black Emperor.

Any last words?

Just a little plug for our new EP Big Red Lazy Sun on LTD vinyl. We have copies available at our show on the 24th October at Rough Trade East and at the EP launch Vinyl Hunter, Bury St Edmunds October 27th; from that date onwards you ill be able to buy online via Vinyl Hunter and Rough Trade!!

Pre-order Big Red Lazy Sun here

Catherine Wheel – Ferment

This debut long player by the East Anglian fireworks is a definite high point of the early nineties.  Boosted by relentless gigging and some great singles.  I Want to Touch You, Black Metallic and Balloon are great singles. Black Metallic is a seven minute epic that threatened to be one of those songs that can make and break your career, a bit like the Mock Turtles, Can You Dig It?  or the Soup Dragons, I’m Free.  It is memorable with it’s towering guitar and walls of sound.  Balloon did not appear in all the versions of Ferment releases but it is definitely a worthwhile inclusion.

Catherine Wheel were not just about effects and waves of distortion, there are well written songs, thoughtful melodies which are well combined with the guitar noise.  After it’s release Catherine Wheel changed direction.

Their second album Chrome was a harder, more rock record. This alienated people like myself who thrived in the shoegazing circles, but it ultimately kept them going. Otherwise they would of been amongst the fallen heroes of the shoegazing scene.  The found huge success in the college rock scene which is notoriously difficult for UK band to break.

Catherine Wheel : Ferment

I Want To Touch You
Black Metallic
Indigo Is Blue
She’s My Friend
Flower To Hide
Bill And Ben

Spitfire – Free Machine EP

When the Free Machine EP was released; Spitfire looked poised to become massive.  Personally it is my favourite Spitfire EP the exuberant Wild Sunshine was an instant indie disco classic (there’s an oxymoron, if ever I saw one). The raw seventies garage band sound fill Wild Sunshine and Rock and Roll Part Rocks Off Baby, with excessive use of wah throughout. Slide shows a more somber side, but the wah is still there.

Spitfire : Free Machine EP

Wild Sunshine
Rock And Roll Part Rocks Off Baby

Lush – Black Spring

Black Spring was the fourth EP from Lush. It was released just before their debut album.  Allegedly it is their first movement away from Robin Guthrie, but he is still the producer and engineers it.  So the Cocteau style layering and cloudy production is still apparent.  Nothing Natural is the most prominent track on this EP.  The bass drives this song along.  The EP ends with another song off Spooky, Monochrome which is a very Cocteau Twinseque number.  There are two tracks that do not appear on any of the albums.  One is a sublime cover of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s Fallin’ in Love.   The other is God’s Gift a sparkly ethereal song that reminds me of dew drops on a sunny morning.

Lush : Black Spring

Nothing Natural
Fallin’ In Love
God’s Gift

Ride – Tarantula

Probably unlike everyone else, this is not my least favourite Ride album. Black Nite Crash was the single that was released before the album. It is a great single, and I thought that it was a return to form.

I have to admit I was not a fan of the 60s pastiche Carnival of Light.  In that album half the songs were penned by Mark Gardener and the other half by Andy Bell. In Tarantula they were nearly all written by Andy, causing it to be called his solo project.  This was showing the growing tension within the band. It was a miracle that the fifth album was released.

Andy documents Mark’s divorce from the rest of the band, in the song Castle on the Hill.  There is another school of thought that suggests that this is about Alan McGee instead.

A friend of mine, one of the few. Has locked himself away like Howard Hughes. They’re trying to replace him, but they know they never will.  It ain’t the same without him on the castle on the hill.

It is the most heaviest Ride album, but not in a distorted, effects smothered way like Drive Blind.  The heavy sound showed Andy and Mark’s vocals as not quiet strong enough. By the time Tarantula was released the band had split up, and the album was deleted after a week. Sadly Mary Anne is not the Glenn Campbell song, which Spacemen covered so well.

Ride : Tarantula

Black Nite Crash
Sunshine / Nowhere To Run
Dead Man
Walk On Water
Deep Inside My Pocket
Mary Anne
Castle On The Hill
Gonna Be Alright
The Dawn Patrol
Ride The Wind
Starlight Motel