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

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

The Charlatans – Over Rising

The high point in The Charlatans career was the time just in between Some Friendly and Between 10th and 11th. The Stone Roses were locked in battle with Silvertone Records and the Happy Mondays were on course for self destruction. At this time The Charlatans seemed to be the brightest hope.

Over Rising
grooves around the organ and piano chords. With some great guitar sounds thrown in. The whole delivery is laid back and funky, including Tim Burgess’s vocals. In contrast Way Up There, shows that Tim’s vocals have much more range and feeling. This song is built around the drums rather than piano and organ.

Happen to Die
really stands out to me as a catchy song. I am not sure why? I think it is the way it builds up with the lyrics adding tension. Then when it gets to the chorus it sounds really cheerful, despite the serious message.

If you happen to die I wont be there,
If you happen to leave then in order to remain there,
Would you do the same on me?

Opportunity Three
is Flood’s reworking of Opportunity. A heavily layered baggy, ambient and psychedelic
song. It is a big tune that rises and falls for over 7 minutes. The EP shows that The Charlatans had settled
and had become more distinctive with their sound, and become groovier at the same time.

The Charlatans : Over Rising

Over Rising
Way Up There
Happen To Die
Opportunity Three

Slowdive – Slowdive

After reading dozens of different reviews (which were all different), I took the plunge and got the new Slowdive album.  Their first album since disbanding 22 years ago after allegedly Oasis asked Alan McGee to drop them.  My first impression is that it blends the shoegaze earlier style with their ambient leanings of their latter work.

Initially I thought there was a lack of delicate gossamer, and celestial harmonies. The harmonies in Everyone Knows, are lost in the guitars.  Go Get It is my least favourite track, it sounds messy.  Slowdive usually have something that pulls the chaos together like a vocal harmony or a cello.

It took a few listens to the album for it to not sound so heavy.  There is a post-rock feel to the album, and particularly in the song No Longer Making Time, with the quiet-loud-quiet format.  Star Roving is the stand out song on the album that gets everything right, and would be easily included on a Slowdive greatest hits album.  I am pleased that they have returned with an album that is not a change in direction, layers of reverb at the forefront.

It is a worthy addition to the Slowdive discography that enhances a glorious back catalogue.

Mark Goodier’s Evening Session

The show ran on Radio 1 between 1990 to 1993, until it was revamped and presented by Steve Lamacq and Jo Wiley.  It was Mark Goodier that built the show into the indie safe haven.  There was not much on the Radio at the time it was launched.  John Peel had moved to the ridiculously late weekend stint, and the only other programme of note was Hit the North presented by Mark Radcliffe.  Irritatingly Hit the North was only available in medium wave on Radio 5.

Monday to Thursday, 7.30pm till 9pm was Mark Goodier’s Evening Session.  Which showcased new indie and alternative talent.  Mark came across a bit Smashie and Nicey.  This partly because he was born in Zimbabwe, and his accent remind me of the quasi-Australian accent of Nicey, and because he sounded so enthusiastic.  This is not a bad trait, as it would be annoying if he had a dead pan voice.

Steve Lamacq did the Evening Session he had more indie credibility, but in this golden age of alternative music his role was at the NME.  Lamacq is often idolised for his work at Radio 1.  I seem to remember him raving about unsigned Bis appearing on Top of the Pops, and that this was the most indie thing that ever happened.     I really don’t know if Goodier was really into the scene.  I always thought of him as a UB40 fan.  He did sometimes play the same song twice in a row, because he enjoyed it so much.

The Best of the Mark Goodier Radio 1 Sessions, Vol. 1

Hearts ‘N’ Minds – The Farm
Someone to Blame – Jesus Jones
Sally Anne – Milltown Brothers
Oh Yes – Angels, Paris
I Believe – EMF
Chlorine Dream – Spirea X
Stars – Poppy Factory
Wake Up Dreaming – Birdland
Wonderful – Real People
Don’t Let That Man – Banderas
Walk Your Way – Linden Tree
Ocean Wide – The Dylans
You’re a Rose – Fatima Mansions
Breather – Chapterhouse
Michael – Frank & Walters
Oh No Won’t D0 – Cud
(No One) Not Even the Rain – The Charlatans

Birdland – Live

A freebie LP single sided and recorded at the Moles Club, Bath on the 11th September 1989 .  This was given away to gig ticket holders during the band’s October tour.  It defines the raw energy and chaotic live performances.  I never saw Birdland they appeared at Southampton University just before I really got into going to gigs.  In the NME back in 1994 they asked indie luminaries about their best gig they saw, James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers said that the best gig he saw was Birdland.

12/01/90 – Town Hall, Maesteg, Wales: “It was on the ‘Sleep With Me’ tour. Not many people turned up: there must have been about 150 there. They just started smashing everything up, and beating up the security in front of hysterical screaming kids. It was just great: I felt a bit like Joe Strummer seeing the Sex Pistols or something … not quite that far maybe, but it but it made me feel like I wasn’t so far out of place. We used to play in our school shirts and things and it gave us the confidence to think that if we got any shit, we were still cool.” [James Dean Bradfield, Manic Street Preachers; ‘Best Gig I Ever Saw’ NME, 10 September 1994] (Note: according to one-time Birdland associate … the Manics were big-time Birdland fans, following them to shows and pestering for autographs)

Birdland : Live

See No Evil
Hollow Heart
Gotta Getaway
Sugar Blood
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger