Inspired by another idle flick through the ever-inspiring This Is Uncool (which I've been meaning to write about for about five months now and never get around to it. In short: Pretty much single-handedly justifies the entirity of nostalgia culture) I found myself for the first time in living memory scrambling through my pile of seven inch singles to find my copy of Spiral Scratch by the Buzzcocks. Much like an explorer in the amazon, what I went for wasn't the only thing I came out with. Like - say - some local roots, a inquisitive new manservant and recurrent malaria.
My 7" collection isn't as sprawling as my CDs. I came into music when CDs were so dominant the only reason to go for vinyl was either for aesphetics, price or necessity. That is, whether or not it was on a particularly entertaining coloured vinyl, whether it was released for a quid and whether it was released on any other format at all.
(And the former is responsible for all manner of horrors in my collection. Particuarly impressive is all the early Garbage singles which are so beautiful it's a little bit intimidating. Take the stupid girl vinyl which was in a red fabric bag covered in raised black circles, with their "G" logo sewn into it with some transparent fabric, for example).
Anyway - some thoughts on a handful I dragged out and associated thoughts.
SAY SOMETHING/SOLID GOLD RADIO - DISCO PISTOL : On transparent vinyl with glitter. When a musical movement can be entirely characterised by a choice of plastics - i.e Entirely transparent but very shiny - it implies something or another. Disco Pistol were pretty much poster-band of the post-Bis Glitter-underground and I got into all manner of trouble when, urged by James ChaChaCha, I joined the International Pop Underground mailing list and slagged off Say Something in my first missive. And then their lead-singer, the irrepressible Myra-Manga-Disco-Pistol, jumped on my fucking head and I crawled away.
After growing to love it, half a decade on and I've returned to something closer to my initial position on Say Something. While its clarion call to Do Something is still undeniable, it just doesn't move me to do, it honey. It doesn't help that its musical voice walks a line between synth glitterpunk and west-end-musical. In fact, if it didn't sound like a strong recommendation, I'd say it sounds like a piece of music composed as part of a musical about the whole zine culture. SAY SOMETHING! The Glitterati Muscical! Now showing!
Luckily Solid Gold Radio on the flip is still funny and sad and playful and romanatic and reminds me of drinking whiskey with ChaChaCha and toasting absent friends.
OTTER THAN JULY - One of Fierce Panda's dual-7"'s containing all manner of stuff I've never listened to, ever, and "Sugar" by What-Marie-and-Emmy-did-Next band Rosita. And listening now it's pretty clear why they never went anywhere. It's just not good enough. I suppose now that it's tragedy is that it's almost good enough. A desperate middle eight builds and collapses as if it wanst to be a mini-epic. A verse where Marie asks - desperately, which is against her image completely - "Am I wasting my time being too familiar?" is confident and sultry. The chorus, however, is an etheric thing, tiny and most desperate in its search for a tune. Black vinyl. The wimps.
ALIEN FOR CHRISTMAS - FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE: Indie-pop-rock which still makes me smile and has just provoked a little head-bob from side-to-side dance such as you'll see Jude doing at Purr on thursdays night. "I want an alien for Christmas/I want an alien this year/I want a little green about three high/with seventeen eyes/ who knows how to fly". On black vinyl too.
SPIRAL SCRATCH - THE BUZZCOCKS: As far as I'm concerned, the start of the underground british pop movement that ran from 1977 to 1994. Genuinely worthy of the word "seminal", as opposed to the latter "Orgasm Addict", which was literally semenial. Black vinyl.
SKILLEX - KENICKIE: And this is the one. Probably in the top-five most important records I've ever bought in my life. The purchase of SKILLEX with its one-two-combo of COME OUT 2NITE and HOW I WAS MADE was responsible for some of the most redemptive and damning moments in the next handful of years. Its direct purchase lead to what I think may have been the single most contempt-addled thing I've ever done to another human being... but if I had the power to take it back, I'm not sure that I would. When I discovered the flip side a couple of months after its purchase - I assumed that because "Come out 2nite" was so urgent that the other side would be utterly forgettable. I was using it as a single-pop moment rather than the start of one of my great Pop romances - it was heartbreaking. Telling, now, I think - Come Out 2nite I found in Bath when I had a girl lying desperately on the bed, begging for attention while I obssessed over pop. How I Was Made was found in Stafford, alone, gone-midnight. It's still a fantastically macabre Laverne-lyric, dripping with Catholic guilt and self-hatred - When I was Made/The Good Lord rubbed my face to give it shape/But he formed a callus/That's how my face was made, for example - which sounds even better with a halo of vinyl-crackles around her, the synth-swooping around the whole-band-as-riff choruses. I'd also forgotten how the former seems to sound even more urgent on the format - two minutes and out, demanding a flip, demanding attention. It's less putting on a record, more shooting up.
On black vinyl - it's classic, so has to be - I'd also forgotten the sleeve with its scrawled inspired nonsense about them being on the run from "WINSTON FUNTIME their ex-ringmaster" who has access to "a geurilla pony squad" and Kenickie's arch rivals "The Hell". Luckily, Kenickie has "Three Guns and a cutlass" and smell of "Gin and greasepaint". "Sip your spirits, face the front at alltimes. Always stay close enough to fight".
Lovely Lauren doodle cover which seems to say everything about Kenickie at that moment of time: an idea of a band, all fast cars, hips and hand-grenades.
I think, with everything I've imdued into the thin sheet of plastic, it may be a genuinely magical totem for me. We'll see.
CRIMANALES, COCHES, PISTOLAS Y CHICAS - CHICKS: In a wall of punky-poppy harmonies: "Hey! Your real world isn't real at all". Few bands came on as hard in their first recorded line as Irish post-Kenickie Chicks before to spectacularly blow it by referencing Gunsmith Cats in the next line and Obi-fucking-one-Kenobi in later on. Geeky girls have always gotten off with this sort of stuff a lot easier than the boys, and while at the time I half forgave them, now I really don't care. You talk about this, you bore me. Still... it's an agreeably nasal, bored voice that flicks between different levels of intensity artfully. In terms of craft (and I know that sounds ludicrous when talking about three-chord-punk-pop, but IT IS) this album was right at the top of the list of post-Kenickie pretenders (Exceptions: Angelica, who really were something else entirely). Still... I turn back to opening "Let me Go" and it sounds like the sun dawning which makes it all the more depressing when you realise it's not a sun... it's a giant ball of molten Star-Wars figures burning in the hormonal heat.
Hmmm. Seeing that they played their last gig with someone from Akira playing with them, I'm half expecting an E-mail from Ste to say that he knows them now and I shouldn't be so MEAN.
TWO EP - MANSUN. Part of me thinks I was hard no Mansun at the time - relatively intelligent, relatively progressive and open-minded rock band I savaged repeatedly. Then I remember that i) Most Mansun fans were utter shits and ii) They did things like call their second EP "2", which deserves retribution. Bought for Take It Easy Chicken, which I thought I'd - years on - finally be free to enjoy. And it's shrunk. What was a wall of snarly Baggy noise seems a little flacid, a limp. Like a girl who thought her first boyfriend had a big cock, but returns for a one-night stand later to discover that it was her lack of experience rather than him. Pah.
I CAN'T WAIT - BRASSY: Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb... ACE! Inevitable when Muffin Spencer became an advertising jingle down the line - even here, they sounded like they were selling something, a hymn to the joys of capitalism and owning stuff. A big pure beat, helium-sexy chorus and silly rapping ("I can't wait... to rock this joint. I can't wait... to fully illustrate my point"). But - my God - this scratching break is one of the most incompetent things I've ever heard. Is this licenced for an EA Snowboarding game? It can only be time.
I can't find my copy of the Charlie's Angel single "Never Gonna Happen To Me". I'm annoyed.
Kieron - 3/10/2004 12:21:00 PM
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