The WYCRA 200 – Number 82

leather

Number 82 – Hook Laden Magnificence from a band who once kipped on my Dads sofa.

Not Superstitious – Leatherface – Chosen by SWC – Taken from ‘Single of the Same Name’ (1991)

Yep, well two of them did. It was inevitably when I was at college and I had just seen them tear up the club in which I was DJing at in Maidstone.   After the gig as I was packing up my stuff into my car, I saw singer Frankie Norman Warsaw Stubbs (that’s his real name, and I just loved typing it!) and guitarist Dickie Hammond eating chips besides their van. It had broken down, so I offered them a room for the night. Sadly it meant a floor in a room at my Dads, but he was cool with it. The following morning over breakfast Frankie and my Dad had a really cool discussion about football – because with some luck Sunderland (his team) were playing West Ham (my dad’s team) that day and my dad invited them to stay and watch it.

Leatherface were amazing both live and on record, they exploded onto the UK punk scene in the late eighties and quickly released four albums before suddenly imploding and splitting, Frankie Stubbs saying that Leatherface had turned into ‘The Ale Farce’. They have since reformed and subsequently split again.

Essentially they were the a four piece and were often compared to Husker Du, probably because at the time (and still today I think) they sounded like no other punk band in the UK at the time. The comparison is understandable as they excelled in delivering melodic hardcore tunes that were in the vein of the genius that is Mould and Hart.

‘Not Superstitious’ is my mind a classic – it is impossible excellent and still sounds as vital and as fresh as it ever did. The melody is infectious yet urgent and powerful. I’m amazed that they never crossed over into the proper mainstream, they certainly deserved it and to be honest Frankie Stubbs should be lauded as a Great British Pop Lyricist on the scale of Morrissey or Damon Albarn. Don’t believe me…Well then listen to the acoustic version of ‘Not Superstitious’ below and tell me that this is a) not beautiful and b) one of the great lost record of the last twenty years.

Here it is and it really is a treat

Not Superstitious – From the ‘Do The Right Thing EP’

Here are the B Sides to the Original 12”

Trenchfoot

Message In A Bottle – Yep that one and its only about three million times better than the original.

And here is another contender for the greatest cover version of all time (that only isn’t included in this list because its not as good as ‘Not Superstitious’)

You Are My Sunshine

The WYCRA 200 – Number 83

mmj

Number 83 – A blissful pop epic overflowing with chiming guitars

One Big Holiday – My Morning Jacket – Chosen by SWC – Taken from ‘It Still Moves’ LP (2003)

My Morning Jacket are a band who I should hate. They are alt country, their songs are like nine minutes long and they are adored by Pearl Jam fans everywhere. Yet, I love them. I’ve loved them ever since I bought ‘It Still Moves’ on a recommendation from an American girl called Sam that I know (Hi Sam, I heard Pearl Jam on the radio yesterday,  they are still shite). The reason I love them is the voice of the singer, one Jim James. He is the mastermind behind My Morning Jacket, he writes the songs, he produces the albums and then he unleashes his voice onto them. The result is just truly stunning.   His voice is an ever ascending work of art that is probably what candyfloss would sound like if it could sing.

At times on their more poppy moments they sound like Radiohead, albeit a Radiohead that have put down their keyboards, bought banjos, recruited Neil Young on vocals and then force fed him burritos for three hours.

‘One Big Holiday’ was the stand out track on ‘It Still Moves’ the bands third album (although tellingly their first for a major label) and is largely the reason why I soon became a massive fan of theirs. It is such a wonderful track, let’s start at the beginning…

It has an intro that last 90 seconds and that itself is pretty devastating, it’s fast, at times heavy and full of passion, if it ended at the 85 second mark it would still be one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded. But in reality its not even started yet because…Then Jim James opens his mouth, and just sings, (incidentally google Jim – he has a beard the size of small rhododendron bush- it shouldn’t be allowed for anyone with a beard like that to be able to sing like that), he sings and seriously you’ll be stuffing a towel in your mouth to stop you screaming with excitement. Magnificent.

Golden

Easy Morning Rebel

The WYCRA 200 – Number 84

foals

Number 84 – A monumental six minutes of genius.

Spanish Sahara – Foals – Chosen by Badger – Taken from ‘Total Life Forever’ LP (2010)

Right now, Foals are the greatest live band in Britain. Their shows are becoming things of legend. I saw them a few months back and the only word I can use to describe the night is ‘immaculate’.   The pick of the evening for me was ‘Spanish Sahara’ and in the next few paragraphs I’ll try and explain why, on that night it sounded better than most songs that I have ever heard live.

You know when bands do quiet songs and on occasion you can hear idiots in the background chatting to their girlfriends, boyfriends, mates, plumber etc generally ruining the vibe for everyone?. Well when Foals did the quiet bits of ‘Spanish Sahara’, and the quiet bit of ‘Spanish Sahara lasts around four minutes, there was nothing but icy quiet, no chatting, no singing, no nothing, not just the absence of noise, but the kind of quiet you get before a lightning strike.  Everyone is kind of standing there, expecting.

Then a quiet voice comes that despite being no more than a whisper sounds like it is coming from everywhere, I look at Mrs Badger and she is staring there, grinning like a cat. I realise we are spellbound.

The quiet bit lasts around four minutes, longer than the majority of songs, and then suddenly you get the rowdy bit, which isn’t so much as in your face rather grabbing you by the jumper and screaming in your face. Then the place goes batshit fucking crazy, it’s a bit like the place has been infested with angry wasps, haunted angry wasps with a massively overdue electricity bill stuck to their heads.  That is a good thing by the way.

My esteemed colleague wanted ‘Hummer’ in this list because of its ‘youthful yelps of energy’ but ‘Spanish Sahara’ is a classic for the ages, a song inspired by Greek myth and the effect seeing a dead dog in the water had on the singer. It’s subtle, cryptic and totally in a world of its own.

Miami

Black Gold

The WYCRA 200 – Number 85

sidibou

Number 85 – Brilliant female fronted indie pop from the mid nineties

Ode to Drink – Sidi Bou Said – Chosen by SWC – Taken from ‘Bodies’ LP (1995)

One of the first thing I wrote for JC over at the Vinyl Villain was a story about the day I got burgled when living in London. Mrs SWC and I returned home from work to find our bathroom window missing alongside a load of other bits and pieces. A couple of days later we were cleaning the place up, now that the police had finished with their forensics and that. I was rearranging the cushions on the sofa, and generally straightening things out. I saw something that was stuffed down the back of the sofa and reached down to get it out. It was an envelope that contained a CD – that CD was ‘Dancehall at Louse Point’ by PJ Harvey and John Parish and over the case of that CD the burglar had written “This looks shit got any Phil Collins”. I was never quite sure how to feel about the fact that the burglar had ignored my entire record and CD collection whilst screwing my house.

Anyway, suffice to say the next few weeks in the house were tense and nervy moments, we awoke at the slightest sound in the streets, checked all the doors three times before going to bed. Slowly the fear subsided. Mrs SWC reacted to the burglary very badly (as you would expect) but time eventually healed this.

We lived in an area where socially nothing happened, all the decent clubs, pubs and venues were a bus ride away. One day I saw in the NME that one of Mrs SWCs favourite bands were playing at The Venue in New Cross, a tiny little place which define toilet venues. It once featured in an episode of Spooks as well (the episode in which the Spooks look after a rock star couple whose baby has been kidnapped, the actor playing the rock star basically pretended he was Kurt Cobain), and that folks was to be our first night in London since we were burgled three months earlier.

That band were Sidi Bou Said, their second album ‘Bodies’ was pretty much played to death by Mrs SWC during the last couple of summers and now they were back and touring their new album ‘Obsessive’ . The gig saw them play a set of mostly new tracks, but at the end they played a bunch of older tracks, including ‘Ode to Drink’ and right there I saw a smile break out on to Mrs SWCs face that I hadn’t seen for a long time. So for that moment alone I am forever indebted to Sidi Bou Said.

For those in the dark, Sidi Bou Said were an all female three piece (for most of their career at least)  who released three albums (I think) before fading away in the late 90s. They were clearly influenced by the Pixies, psychedelia and I would imagine The Throwing Muses. But they also had an individual element, particularly in their lyrics which were positioned strongly in feminist ideology.

Their second album ‘Bodies’ is a wonderful little album, and if you remember back to what I said two days ago about records released in 1995, this is another one, but one that was largely missed by the record buying public. It turned out that the public had missed one of the most pleasant surprises of that year of fantastic releases.

Wormee

Slitty Gap

The WYCRA 200 – Number 86

maps

Number 86 – A tune full of genuine regretful emotion

Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Chosen by SWC – Taken from ‘Fever to Tell’ LP (2003)

Some people say that the early part of this century was a bad time to be a front woman in a rock band. Kim Deal claimed it was because women didn’t want to hump amplifiers all over the place and live out of transit vans before having the money to employ roadies. She may have had a point, I wouldn’t want to do that either.

When the YYY’s first arrived in the UK in 2002, there was a dearth of decent female fronted bands, and some people argue that is why such a fuss was made about Karen O and the YYY’s in particular.   They were caught in such a whirlwind of hype and expectation that even The Strokes thought it was ‘a bit much’. Those who didn’t believe or want to believe the hype quickly dismissed them as being ‘trendy’. And then they dropped this track, and every one picked their jaws up off the ground and said “Ok then, we are listening”.

‘Maps’ is a true moment of clarity for the YYY’s, a tune of such moving grace that at times I struggle to remember that they are responsible for it. I can’t think of another YYY’s song that even comes close to it, truly in a class of its own. Everything falls into place with this song, the drums are gentle enough that they appear to caress the tune. The guitar is perfectly split between joy and discord, but it’s the vocals that steal the show, they drip with regretful genuine emotion. When Karen sings “Lay off/ Don’t stray/ My kind is your kind/ I’ll stay the same and then “They don’t love you like I love you,” she sounds on the verge of tears. Tired defeated tears at that. Its fantastic and that is underplaying the emotion a bit.   It comes across as a warm hearted angular love song, human even and that meant a lot at a time when nearly everything sounded false and affected.

Here are two tracks from the ‘It’s Blitz’ album which is in my opinion the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s best album and one remix which I think is brilliant.

Zero

Heads Will Roll

Zero (RAC Remix)

The WYCRA 200 – Number 87

caught

Number 87 – We’ve all been there

Caught By the Fuzz – Supergrass – Chosen by SWC – Taken from ‘I Should Coco’ LP (1995)

Wasn’t 1995 a marvellous year for music. So many decent records came out that year.   I think it’s the year that features the most in this rundown. But, enough of that, seeing as we are talking about ‘Caught By The Fuzz’ let’s talk about the time I got arrested.

But before that, a quick question – does anyone out there remember a band called The Jennifers? They played run of the mill indie pop and I think disappeared just as quickly as they arrived. The reason I ask is that a few months after The Jennifers disappeared, Supergrass arrived with ‘Caught By The Fuzz’, two minutes of clever punky indie pop telling a story about being busted for drug possession and then being told off by your mums. It was way better than anything The Jennifers ever recorded (not that there was much). Basically The Jennifers turned into Supergrass, but its the clever packaging that allowed Supergrass to be something entirely different.

Much was made how Supergrass were terribly young whippersnappers (despite Gaz looking like he needed to shave four times a day to stop his growing a W G Grace beard before tea time), and they had been plucked out of a school room concert and signed on the spot obviously its not quite true. The Jennifers did form at school and did release records whilst (apparently) still at school, but ultimately Supergrass were in their twenties when ‘Caught By The Fuzz’ came out. Not that it matters, its still a brilliant record.

Anyway, there I am in the interview room at the police station.

Cold.  Aged 14, a bit sniffy, naïve and not really that streetwise.

I have been arrested for criminal damage. I honestly didn’t do it. I mean I was there when the bin was set alight, and I might have laughed as the hedge next to it caught fire too, but I didn’t have the matches or the lighter fuel. I’d also ran away when the fuzz arrived (or The Man as we called them), sadly for me, I didn’t know my way around the back streets of Gillingham Park and I’d run down a dead end cul-de-sac, hence my arrest.   The real criminals got away, as all of Kent finest were dealing with me. I won’t name names but suffice to say there is a reason I took such smug satisfaction in the celebrated Dubstar argument around ten years later.

Then my Dad arrives, he is properly pissed off, because he has been dragged away from his table tennis match, which apparently was a County Cup Match (he is still in his kit, a slightly sweaty sweary mess). I’m not sure if he is more angry with the coppers or with me. There are a few lengthy discussions none of which I remember largely because I’m too scared to think for myself. Seriously I’m 14 and I think I am going down for life for not setting fire to a bin.

My dad looks at me and says “just tell them what happened then we can go get some chips”.

Honestly that’s what he said.

I nod largely because I was hungry.

I sat in the room and a kindly old guy with a moustache came in and asked me some questions.

“Did I set fire to the bin?”

No.

“Do I know who did?” Now, I didn’t know for sure, so I said: –

No.

Apparently this wasn’t helping myself. My solicitor (a bloke my dad knew from the local pub, who he’d phoned about an hour earlier) told the officers that there was no evidence against me, maybe I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“We’ve found the matches you dumped” another officer tells me (a grumpy young chap – nice and nasty you see). I know this to be incorrect, because one, I didn’t have any matches, and two, the whole box got thrown in the bin fire to make it burn better. So what they had was some matches they’d picked up, dropped by someone else, this was a fit up. Bloody Feds.

I didn’t have any matches I say. At this point my dad interrupts and says, “He wouldn’t even know how to light a match”. This is true, Chris had a lighter for our secret smoking sessions behind his Granddads shed.

After about twenty minutes of further ruthless interrogation “you stink of smoke”) they let me go, with a warning. I walk out feeling like Reggie Kray. I was untouchable. Ha, I fought the law…

Then my dad grounded me for a month. Without pocket money and I didn’t get any chips on the way home, he also made me clean his car, my Granddad’s car and most of his friends cars for free.

Its doesn’t pay folks.

Going Out

Its Not Me

The WYCRA 200 – Number 88

nothing

Number 88 – Simply stunning

Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O Connor – Chosen by Badger – taken from ‘I Do not Want What I Do Not Have’ LP (1990)

I find it really difficult to read about Sinead O’Connor at the moment, she is clearly unwell, she is clearly struggling with a number of issues, and at times it looks like she is the only one who can’t see this. Its difficult because when you hear this, you realise that yet again what we are seeing is the massive loss of talent, the unravelling of a great performer in front of our eyes. Yet again.

So now a story that if it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye you have a waxy pea sized heart and a soul that even Azkaban’s Dementors wouldn’t be interested in it.

This song always remind me of a chap I met once called Jay, he was physically abused by his low life drunk of a step father at the age of 15 and ran away from home. A colleague of mine who worked for a homeless charity in Leeds found him living under a bridge aged 16 and managed to help him turn his life around.

It reminds me of him because of the only time I met him, he told me this was playing on the radio in the room he was sitting in when he was reacquainted with his mother for the first in ten years, when aged 26. It turns out his mother was oblivious to the abuse that her husband was dishing out, until one day she witnessed it for herself against Jay’s younger sister. Revolted by what she saw she packed two bags, grabbed her daughter and left the scumbag in the middle of the night as he lie drunk on the sofa.

He said as he waited for his mother to come in, he was shaking with nerves and this song was on the radio, he remembered that it was a request show and it might have been number one at the time, which I think makes it February 1990. He came close to walking out before she arrived but the lyrics to this song calmed him and made him smile, he said, genuinely, it was the first thing that had made him properly smile in about six years. This song. A powerful emotional song about loss and heartbreak, one of the best delivered vocal performances ever and yet Jay found something else in it.   Music, folks, don’t you just fucking love it.

I met Jay through work. Jay is a trainer now and does training courses, in domestic abuse, how to recognise it and about how to help in the rehabilitation of its survivors. He is an inspiration. He took a roomful of hairy arses blokes and reduced them to dribbling weepy fops in the space of twenty minutes. He introduces the bit where he gets reacquainted with his mother by stopping his talk and from out of nowhere you hear Sinead with that voice of hers shouting

“Guess what he told me…”

and then silence.  Stunning silence.

1000 Mirrors – Asian Dub Foundation featuring Sinead O’Connor

 

The WYCRA 200 – Number 89

ctc

Number 89 – One for the freaks in the corner

Let’s Kill Music – The Cooper Temple Clause – Chosen by SWC – Taken from ‘See This Through and Leave’ LP (2001)

A few older readers will remember a while ago that I found a box of CDs in my loft that I had forgotten about and then proceeded to invite people to pick a number and I then wrote about that CD.   Well inside that box was a plain paper case with a white CD in it with just ‘TCTC’ written upon it. It was number 5 in the box and no one picked it, so I never wrote about it, until now. I’ll be honest this CD is a mystery that requires some solving – I could just Google it to be honest but I hoping at least one of you out there is feeling ‘interactive’ this morning.

It turns out that CD was by the Cooper Temple Clause, a brilliant indie band from the early part of the century that are now sadly defunct and look like staying that way, despite numerous rumours suggesting otherwise.   Now I own two Cooper Temple Clause albums, and this CD contains just five tracks, two of them are live tracks, (one of which is a version of todays track ‘Lets Kill Music’) and three are not. The three non live tracks do not feature on the albums and they do not feature as B sides as far as I can make out – because I have all the singles, apart from ‘Panzer Attack’ – which conveniently is the other live track on this CD. So where did they come from?

I remember that this CD was given to me by an old friend Neil, one I haven’t spoken to in a few years, he met a girl, moved away and we lost contact, a shame because for a while he was my gig buddy. I am friends with him on Facebook so I message him.   “Hi mate, long time no speak, how’s the wife”. Then I stop and delete the bit about the wife in case it has ended nasty and put “hope’s all well”. Then I put “Remember that CD you gave me containing five Cooper Temple Clause tracks, where did you get the tracks from?”

I then sat back and await the immediate response that social media gives you. Nothing. As I write this four days later, still no response. What’s the point of having a Facebook account if you don’t use it. So while I wait, lets talk about ‘Let’s Kill Music’.

How this wasn’t a massive hit across the world I will never know. It has everything. That chorus, relentlessly catchy, that keyboard at that start, the build, the bit near the end where it all comes to a head and the singer shouts “OH My GOD” and a line that identified with isolated teenagers everywhere ‘its the freak in the corner..’. Oh man, it’s just breathlessly wonderful. When this came out I remember having that feeling you get when you first hear a song that you know you are going to love it for ever. I also remember wishing that I was 15 when I first heard and being devastated that I couldn’t throw myself around to it.

So back to the CD from the box, I still have no idea so here are the three non live tracks

Devil Walks in the Sand

Way Out West

I’ll Still Write

And here is Panzer Attack (live)

Your task this morning – where do these tracks come from…..? Answers in the comments section please….

The WYCRA 200 – Number 90

jolly

Number 90 – One of Mrs Badgers favourite songs of all time

Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand – Chosen by Badger – taken from ‘Franz Ferdinand’ LP (2004)

About five years ago on a holiday on a windswept Mediterranean Island Mrs Badger and I found ourselves in a bar on a beach. It was our last night on the island and we were going home the following morning. It had been a lovely holiday, as cultural as it was fun, the food was great, the drink was great, the people were friendly. I still use the gaudily painted vase I bought from a trinket shop in a back street. I stick flowers in it and fondly reminisce about this holiday.

So Mrs badger and I are relaxing at the bar after having a particularly nice dinner of swordfish curry (very nice indeed, the curry had bananas in it), we have ordered a couple of cocktails (me Mojito, her Jolly Rancher – Google it, it’s terrific) and are waiting for the drinks, we have eyed up a table and I send Mrs B over to grab them.

About half an hour later we see the familiar and pleasant sight of a band rocking up to do the evening’s entertainment.   This lot were a bunch of locals, three guys, and a female, who we figured would be the vocalist.   They used one of those big jukebox things, to aid with backing effects, so largely we thought that they would be rubbish. We decided to have one more drink then call it a night, we would walk romantically arm in arm back to the hotel, watching the sun go down as the waves lapped over our feet (Although we had been advised not to do this by the hotel because of a sudden influx of stingrays burying themselves under the sand near the waters edge).

We listen to the band, the singer can sing, that much I will admit, she had a belting voice, they do a passable cover version of the Black Eyed Peas classic ‘Where is the Love?’ and a frankly better than the original version of Nik Kershaws ‘Never Ending Story’. They also play a couple of Cure songs which they butcher and they totally destroy ‘500 Miles’ by the Proclaimers if that’s even possible. We drain our cocktails and stand up, just as the singer says in broken English “Thanks very much, does anyone have any requests?”

Then to my alarm Mrs Badger is walking towards the stage and speaking to the singer. She is nodding enthusiastically.   “What you done” I mouthed at her, as she tottered back over. I mean seriously two Jolly Ranchers and she’s anyone’s.

Then I hear the familiar tune of Aha’s ‘Take On Me’ and the band are giving real gusto. I look perplex, Mrs Badger hates this song and everything about it, especially the video. I look at her and give her my best puzzled look. She is laughing, proper doubled over laughter. She stands there and wildly applauds when they finish. Like I said anyone’s after two ridiculously strong cocktails.

We leave shortly after a bad version of ‘Jumpin Jack Flash’ and I ask what was that Aha nonsense all about, and she said “I asked them to play ‘Take Me Out’ by Franz Ferdinand. They obviously didn’t know it”.

Ah. Right.

Darts of Pleasure

Michael

The WYCRA 200 – Number 91

triangle

Number 91 – Fantastically gentle indie dance (plus the most New Order sleeve never released by New Order)

Triangle – The Field Mice – Chosen by SWC – taken from ‘Skywriting’ LP (1990)

So we had an email. The sender will remain nameless but it was the same guy who slagged us off for putting Tandem Felix in the list higher than someone like Leftfield. According to him, we are trying too hard. We are trying to be clever, to be deliberately obscure with our choices, deliberately putting some songs way higher than they should be to generate visitors and comments. It’s all true of course.  I love a troll me.

My music tastes are way more obscure than all of you, I am much cleverer than you, much funnier, and my punctuation and grammer is betterer as well. Whenever I go out, people throw themselves at my feet; they slap my back in congratulation of my indieness. I get thousands of emails on a daily basis telling me that I am genius. I laugh an evil dictator type laugh every time I post a track containing a track that I don’t actually like but think will annoy people, I give myself a smug knowing wink in the mirror every time I post something slightly obscure or left field just to remind myself that I am better than all you fools.

Well perhaps. Mate, I’m not trying to be clever, I’m trying to document my favourite pieces of music in one place. I’m also trying to kill off the ‘Greatest Hits List’ forever. If you don’t like it, the Daily Mail is thataway

Anyway…

I’ve been a fan of the Field Mice ever since I heard this track on an Indie Top 20 cassette (that was yellow and also like every compilation released between 1991 and 1993, contained ‘Groovy Train’ by The Farm’). I liked it so much that I wrote to Sarah Records to tell them, and to get more information on the band, as you did before email. I got a lovely letter back, telling me that The Field Mice had split up and that I was fey indie loser (well half of that).

You rarely get a Field Mice post these days on the Internet, or did, and now in the last three weeks there have been three that I am aware of (this being the third) after both JC and Alex G (who posted the tremendously brilliant Peel Session a while back) both did something on them a short while back. Of course, when I made this list I stuck this in just to be clever and earn cool points with the Tallulah Gosh hipsters from the vegan café.

Personally, this is my favourite track by them, but actually all of their stuff is worth checking out, if you like your music, twee, gentle and quiet that is. ‘Triangle’ is perhaps as rawkus as the band get, it has a few bigger beats, the occasional breathy vocal, and (whisper it) you can nearly dance to it. Tremendous.

Emma’s House