Lupine Howl – 125

Jason Pierce in his most Mark E Smith moment sacked; Sean Cook, Mike Mooney, and Damon Reece in 1999.  They promptly formed their own psychedelic outfit, Lupine Howl.  Despite having the artistic freedom now, the EP sounds remarkably like Spiritualized, particularly in Tired and Swell.  My favourite track  is Vaporizer, which sounds like a 90s Spencer Davis Group.  Bronzage is a darkly psychedelic funk track, really this should have been the sound that Lupine Howl focused on.  They could of sounded like Parliament with Bobby Gillespie style weedy vocals, but there was only flashes of this throughout the EP.

Indie Trivia fact: 125 refers to the Intercity 125 that went into service on the London to Bristol route in 1976.  Bristol was where Lupine Howl set up camp.  There is an Intercity 125 pictured on the EP cover. Capable of speeds in excess of 125 mph, this train broke the British speed record that had been held since 1938 by the legendary Mallard, the steam locomotive featured on the cover of Blur’s Modern Life Is Rubbish.

Lupine Howl : 125

125
Vaporizer
Tired
Swell
Bronzage
Mexican Cantina
Voodoo Raygun

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Swallow – Hush

After relationships with 4AD broke down Swallow began writing and recording at home. A newly funded Rough Trade records released a four track EP Hush which included a cover of Steve Miller’s Dear Mary.  At this point Swallow briefly toured with Mazzy Star.  The brief hiatus did nothing to inspire interest in the duo, and the Hush EP was poorly received.  Which is a shame as it is good

Louise Trehy’s vocals are haunting and ethereal.  Yet it all sounds very 4AD even though it was on Rough Trade.  It still sounds like the Cocteau Twins which is not going to win many fans, when it was released in 1994.  Everyone was into Britpop at this time and the sound seemed dated.

Swallow : Hush

Hush
Flooded
Watching the Sun
Dear Mary

In a Field of Their Own: Highlights of Glastonbury 1992

Last month I celebrated 25 years since my first Glastonbury.  I grabbed a tent and a train ticket to Castle Carey and went off to Glastonbury festival.  It was a very sunny hot summer in 92, and I had finished my GCSE’s a few days earlier and I was going to enjoy myself.

The line-up was solid. The Senseless Things, The Blue Aeroplanes, The Breeders, Carter U.S.M, The Orb, Primal Scream, The Stairs, The Fall, Ocean Colour Scene, Midway Still, Curve, The Frank and Walters, Spiritualized, Blur, Neds Atomic Dustbin and P.J Harvey.

These were the ones that I saw. I remember my disappointment when I went to the Pyramid Stage to see Morrissey. He wasn’t there James appeared instead.  James opened with the Morrisey song We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful. I saw a Smiths fan run from the camping area because he thought that it was Moz himself singing.

Blur appeared onstage all dressed in suits, Damon climbed the lighting rig and then jumped on a speaker stack that toppled over.  He broke his foot doing this, but at the time he carried on and I was unaware that he had injured himself.

The House of Love appeared with balloons all over the stage. At the end of the set the drummer threw a drumstick that he had broken earlier into the crowd. It seemed to fly into my hand and I went off very happy. I was fortunate because there were stories about Nirvana throwing a smashed guitar at the Reading Festival in 92. The story goes that the person who picked up the guitar got their tent raided in the night and beaten up and the guitar stolen.

I was so caught up in the scene, that I failed to watch Lou Reed or Van Morrison. What a pretentious snob I was.  Jah Wobble’s Invaders Of The Heart and Sinead O’Conner appeared with her son (who was just a toddler) onstage to do a duet. The Blue Aeroplanes had the craziest dancer onstage that could out dance Bez.  The Fall had to put up with people shouting, “Hit the North”, between each song.  Ocean Colour Scene were a baggy band back then.  I even had a look at Shakespeare’s Sister.

After the stages were empty and the bands had finished, I would go to a tent that had a DJ playing out of a truck cab that was actually in the tent.  This was called the Sugar Lump, and even though I was not really into the music the atmosphere was amazing.  On one night the generator that was powering everything kept on breaking down.  As soon as the lights and music cut out hundreds of whistles blew and it seemed that everyone was wearing a glow necklaces.  It also seemed there that, if anyone was wearing a Malcolm X cap they were a drug dealer

Probably the greatest thing that happened was that I heard Spiritualized for the first time.  This started a twenty five year obsession

In a Field of Their Own: Highlights of Glastonbury 1992

The Orb – A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain that Rules from The Centre of The Ultraworld
Jah Wobble’s Invaders of The Heart – Do You Live What You Sing?
Flowered Up – Weekender
James – Gold Mother
Dr Phibes & the House of Wax Equations – Hazy Lazy Hologram
Fat Dinosaur – Love
Senser – The Journey of Life
Curve – Fat Accompli
The Faith Healers – Reptile Smile
The Breeders – Iris
Lush – Starlust
Billy Bragg and The Redstars – Accident Waiting to Happen
Carter USM – Sheriff Fatman
The Levellers – Battle of the Beanfield
Neds Atomic Dustbin – Grey Cell Green
The Frank And Walters – Walter’s Trip
The Family Cat – Steamroller
The Real People – What You Want
Spiritualized – Shine a Light
Kitchens of Distinction – Mad as Snow
Thousand Yard Stare – Seasonstream
Midway Still – Better Than Before
The Senseless Things – Too Much Kissing
Blur – Sunday Sunday

Curve – Pubic Fruit

Ten Little Girls was playing on the John Peel show even before the release of the Blindfold EP. John raved about Curve and said that they were going to be the next big thing. I thought that they were good and ordered the EP from Our Price.  In those days you had to wait for things to be sent to the record shop usually by a distributor like Cargo or Reactor. Unless you had a really good Independent Record Shop near.

Dave Stewart was the unlikely orchestrator of the formation of Curve. Toni Halliday was signed to Stewart’s Anxious label and Dave Garcia had played bass guitar in the live Eurythmics tour band.  Curvesfirst 3 EPs were released in a compilation (I know very Ride, Lush and Beta Band), the classic Pubic Fruit. This I would rate as some of their best releases. Doppelgänger was a bit of a let down. I think that was due to the fact that I had collected every EP and there was not much new good material on the album.

No Escape from Heaven is the standout track with Frozen and Die like a Dog coning a close second.  Sounding darker and more dangerous than American-Scottish alternative rock band Garbage that stole their thunder.  Swirling guitars buried beneath a throbbing rhythm with sexy expressive vocals.

Curve : Pubic Fruit

Ten Little Girls
I Speak Your Every Word
Blindfold
No Escape From Heaven
Coast Is Clear
The Colour Hurts
Frozen
Zoo
Clipped
Die Like a Dog
Galaxy
Cherry
Faît Accompli (Extended Version)

 

Wozniak – Courage Reels

The debut album from Edinburgh quartet Wozniak, a long awaited debut after a series of stunning EPs and singles. The band comprise of Simon Cuthbert-Kerr (guitar), James Urquhart (bass), John Sinclair (drums), and Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr (guitar, vocals).

The first listen was cathartic and an experience not unlike being stood on a cliff edge in a storm.  Sounding more post-rock than shoegaze, the album is mostly instrumental with some long tracks.  I will try to refrain from drawing comparisons with fellow Scotsmen Mogwai

The opener Shader starts off straight into a constant fuzzed out wall of distortion with bright ringing guitars breaking through. The pace shifts but the distortion is relentless. Ghosting starts off gentler but builds up to a chaotic finale which even has some vocals from Sarah.

My favourite song on the album is Super Panther.  The quieter parts have a real sense of urgency and suspense.  It is a soundtrack for a film that has not been made yet.  The bass and drums propel this song through the very heavy guitars.  Scottish Dancer is different from the rest of the album as it was vocals mostly throughout and a verse-chorus structure.  The cold vocals and washes of ghostly noise give this song a hazy dreamlike quality.

The closing track Death Suit starts off as stripped back song with hardly any effects, a Wozniak unplugged.  It is focused on the interplay of the instruments and the steady build up of layers of melody.  Until distorted guitars crash in at 2 minutes into the song, they continue to appear and then disappear leaving parts without any feedback really stark and bare.

Courage Reels is an elemental force not dressed up as anything else or trying to be anyone else.  It is beautiful by it’s sheer power and force.

The Charlatans – Weirdo

Part of the holy triumvirate Over Rising, Me In Time the Weirdo EP was released. The latter is a Hammond organ extravaganza. This would one of the pinnacle of Rob Collins’ career as shortly after the single was released Collins was arrested for aiding and armed robbery. Collins was charged with armed robbery on an off-licence near his home. He claimed to have no foreknowledge of the robbery, and pleaded guilty to “Assisting an offender after an offence”, for which he was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment.

The EP features the Theme from The Wish. A film that no one has heard of; or was it a film at at all? It is an atmospheric yet kind of groovy instrumental. There is an alternate take on Weirdo which is basically not as good as the original. Lastly the epic Sproston Green (U.S version) which is always a joy.

The Charlatans : Weirdo

Weirdo
Theme From “The Wish”
Weirdo (Alternate Take)
Sproston Green (U.S. Version)

Ian Prowse, Barrelhouse Ballroom Totnes, 2nd June 2017

I did not put up a blog post this weekend because I was away in Totnes.  I was really surprised that Ian Prowse from Pele and Amsterdam had chosen to appear there.  It was also an opportunity to take my wife away as she found the folk-rock work of Ian Prowse much more palatable than the walls of distortion, feedback and reverb at gigs I would regularly attend.

We got to the Barrelhouse and watched the support, which was singer/guitarist from Plymouth.  Unfortunately the support had to compete with a very talkative audience at the bar.  I ended up feeling very sorry for him.

 

Ian took to the stage and led the audience through and anthology of work.  There was a selection from; Pele Raid the Palace, Amsterdam  Does This Train Stop On Merseyside? and solo work My Name is Dessie Warren. There were many songs that inspired me to seek out the Amsterdam backcatalogue as I am not very familiar with it.  The interaction with the crowd was great, Ian recounted many stories about the inspirations behind some of the songs, being top of the charts in South Africa and childhood holidays in Totnes.

The highlight of the evening was Does This Train Stop On Merseyside? it is a song that is so much better live and the audience were all singing their hearts out to this.  John Peel said that he was moved to tears everytime that this was played.  I was surprised that there was a cover of The Clash’s London Calling in the set.  This was a bold move as no one can really pull off a Clash song except themselves, but I was thankfully surprised and eventhough the cover was faithful to the original it was another gem in the live set.

At the end of the gig I went for the obligatory selfie with the performer.  This was when my wife said, “Russell saw you live in 1991″.”  Upon further research it was actually 8th February 1992.  I said that it was at The Joiners Arms in Southampton where I had seen him 25 years ago.

Ian’s reply was, “The Joiners Arms, the world’s biggest stage.”

The 25th Anniversary edition of Pele’s Fireworks is available from Ian’s site