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All the Free EP's from the 20th Century collected in one place....when I get them, that is.
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Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Another No One (Live) - Suede
Originally a B side to Suede Mk2's comeback single Trash, this is the only place you'll find this live version, recorded in Los Angeles in May 1997. The original was also included on Suede's B side compilation Sci Fi Lullabies as well as the recent re-release of the album Coming Up as part of the band's reformation-celebrating reissue extravaganza.
Shotgun - The Charlatans
You can only be that well worn cliche - a 'survivor' - in the music world if you're prepared to move on and try something new but still have a sound you can call your own. This is why the likes of Manic Street Preachers, Primal Scream and indeed The Charlatans are still with us, Northern Uproar are not and why Cast's attempt at Blaxploitation funk failed dismally. Dismissed as Stone Roses copyists at their inception, Tim Burgess et al soon shed the burden of Brown and Baggy and ventured into classic rock territory, something they took a step further by embracing soul and funk sounds, complete with Burgess' new falsetto, on their seventh album Wonderland in 2001 whilst still retaining their indie rock groove. The new sound was most emphasised in this track omitted from the UK version and becoming what British fans loath the most - the Japanese bonus track. The only place to get this without forking out a small fortune was this compilation...until it became a bonus track on their next single A Man Needs To Be Told. The band have moved on since, further albums incorporating reggae, dub and New Order leanings...and they're something of a national indie institution.
Tides Of The Moon (Live) - Mercury Rev
A Mercury Rev Song On Compilation Not From Deserter's Songs Shocker! Mercury Rev took the Deserter's Songs template and took it to new lush, cinematic lengths for their next single All Is Dream. Some found it a bit too sweet but it remains another high watermark for the band. This live version of the album track found its way onto the Dark Is Rising single package. It was recorded live at the 2001 Reading Fesival
Party Hard (Live) - Pulp
Recorded live in Switzerland nearly exactly ten years ago in July 2001, this remains an exclusive 6 minute version of the This Is Hardcore album track and single from 1998. Although a band who refused to stand still musically, no-one could blame Pulp for calling it a day in 2002....huge success followed a torturous 13 year rise to fame, from there followed Jarvis Cocker's meltdown and the dark Hardcore album completely at odds with the more anthemic nature of their breakthrough material. Alienating the kids, their final, hugely undervalued album We Love Life was met with shrugs by the masses and the end was nigh. Nearly ten years later, they're back! Party Hard reached #29 in 1998.
Fever (Live Acoustic) - Starsailor
This is the only place you'll find this take of Starsailor's top 20 debut single, recorded for Nemone in the Radio 1 Live Lounge. One of the many post-Britpop bands to be hyped and flounder with half a decade, Starsailor are currently on the dreaded "hiatus" after each of their albums has steadily fared worse than the previous one. Despite this, Wigan's second most successful band have had ten Top 40 hits in the UK.
Coming Second (Live) - Elbow
And another live exclusive for Elbow completists, of which there are many after five straight both commercially and critically acclaimed albums. This was featured on their first, Asleep In The Back and was released as the fourth single from the album as a AA side along with the then-new track also called Asleep In The Back which was added to later editions of the parent album. It charted at #19 and remains their joint highest charting single to date along with Fallen Angel and Grounds For Divorce. Oddly, despite being used in every television programme ever made in the last few years and spending 35 weeks in the UK Chart, their most famous record One Day Like This has never made it past #35.
The other tracks on this EP are: Woah! - So Solid Crew, Dreamy Days (Lotek Bonanza Relick) - Roots Manuva, Rock N Roll Star (Live) - Oasis, Avril 14th - Aphex Twin, New Instrumental (Live) - The Music, Saigin Disco (Live) - ARE Weapons, Ride Wit' Us (Remix) - Kurupt, Shadows Fall - The Coral, Drop The Hate (Laid Remix) - Fatboy Slim, Right Here (Club Mix) - Stanton Warriors
Sunday, 17 July 2011
1. Acquiesce - Oasis
The band that saved Creation, Oasis were one of those rare bands that became so huge that their B sides often gained as much attention as their A Sides. This was perhaps their most famous example and the Acquiesce's status is now arguably greater than it's A Side, Some Might Say, which became the band's first #1 n 1995. Acquiesce was released as a promo single in anticipation of Oasis' B-Side compilation, The Masterplan, in 1998, and, confirming its classic status, was put out again as the lead single of the Stop The Clocks EP in 2006, a precursor to the collection of the same name. It seems Acquiesce was never destined to be a hit in its own right though; the length of the EP meant it was ineligible for the UK singles chart denying it a place in the Top 5.
2. Star - Primal Scream
Or not, as we'll see in a moment...
Primal Scream released two singles in a month in May 1997 to promote their masterpiece Vanishing Point. Perversely the first release, the massively uncompromising electro-dub racket Kowalski fared better in the charts, hitting #8, than the more commercial, by the Scream's standards, Star, which stalled at #16 despite extra airplay and performances on TV. Hailed as a return to form after the Stones-aping Give Out But Don't Give Up, Vanishing Point charted, like its predecessor at #2. To this day, Primal Scream are defined by the pioneering Screamadelica, yet it's this album that remains their best and most satisfying release to date.
Some months after Vanishing Point's release came Echo Dek, a dub overhaul of the entire album remixed by Adrian Sherwood. One of the tracks, Revolutionary, was a reworking of Star and it's this version that appears on this Free EP despite the credits suggesting it should be the original version.
3. Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside) - My Bloody Valentine
Although the early 90s shoegazing movement took inspiration from early to mid 80s bands such as Cocteau Twins, Jesus & Mary Chain and This Mortal Coil, it's My Bloody Valentine, led by Kevin Shields, and their first album Isn't Anything, who are credited with kickstarting the movement. The album, kicking off with this track, with its droning, psychedelic trance-like take on indie rock, spent 17 weeks on top of the indie chart and spawned a myriad of copycat bands. Ironically, it was the band's second album, Loveless, that helped kill shoegaze. It was so good that it made the work of every other shoegaze band seem very old hat very quickly and the music press soon moved on to pastures new. Always destined to be a critical rather than a commercial success, the crazy amount of money spent on producing Loveless typifies the madness surrounding Creation at the time and, never mind shoegazing, the album nearly killed off the label.
4. Mellow Doubt - Teenage Fanclub
Despite nearly going to the wall, 1991 was a good year for Creation Records Product. As well as Screamadelica and Loveless, there was Bandwagonesque, Teenage Fanclub's third album, a massive crirtical and modest commercial success. After the relative of failure of the follow up Thirteen came Grand Prix in 1995 which became the band's biggest success to date hitting the Top 10. Although little to do with "Britpop", their chiming Big Star and Byrds-esque guitars and melodies sat well in the climate and the album spawned two Top 40 hits, Sparky's Dream and this, which hit #34. Despite achieving their greatest successes in this era, and referenced by many as influences, Teenage Fanclub were one of the era's great underachievers and despite further minor hits, never properly broke through unlike those they had influenced - see Travis.
In a late twist, in 2004 an episode of The Bill aired on ITV and featured four characters - Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley, Paul Quinn and Gerard Love. Teenage Fanclub may not have sold a million in the UK, but several million probably watched this. Sadly, only about 7 people realised the scriptwriter's little in-joke...
5. Free Huey - The Boo Radleys
Never has a band, with the possible exception of Cornershop, been so misunderstood by the mainstream media and general public than the Boo Radleys, forever associated with one piece of music. You know the one. Sadly, that track, despite hitting the Top 10, earning songwriter Martin Carr enough money to retire on and spawning a #1 album was a pyrrhic victory. By the time the band released the noisy, experimental and frankly brilliant follow up, C'Mon Kids a year later, the older fans who had been captivated by 1993's magnum opus Giant Steps and earlier feedback drenched noise rock classics had ungraciously moved on after their commercial success and the new fans just didn't get it expecting Wake Up Boo Mk2. The result was the biggest shame in 90s music as, despite three Top 40 hits, the album stalled at #20 and disappeared after only a couple of weeks in the chart. Knocked for six, the band recorded their sixth album Kingsize featuring less experimentation and more structure and melody. Told by Creation to record two commercial singles before the album could be released, Carr came up with the stellar title track and this, Free Huey, which was released as the album's lead single. A risky single incorporating big beats and a shouty chorus, which accounted for two thirds of the song, it bombed and charted at a lowly #54. After the album disastrously peaked at #62 a couple of weeks later, the band called it a day leaving the second single, the title track unreleased. A soaring, anthemic track, if this had been the lead single, it could have saved them. A lost classic indeed. A rare 5 track promo of what would have been the tracks spread across 2 CD singles does exist and this counts as the final Boo Radleys release in the band's lifetime.
6. This Is My Hollywood - 3 Colours Red
3CR were much derided, mostly thanks to Alan McGee's over the top hyperbole when he announced that they were the most exciting band since the Sex Pistols. What he failed to mention was that 3CR were a pretty perfunctory punk rock band. Still, McGee's hype helped them achieve 4 Top 40 hits from their debut album Pure. This Is My Hollywood was the band's first release on the Fierce Panda label in 1996 and was re-released as the fifth single from the debut album in 1997 where it stalled at #48.
7. Love Is Blue - Edward Ball
Former Television Personalities frontman Ed Ball must have been a good friend of Alan McGee who let him release a bunch of albums as Love Corporation on the imprint throughout the 90s. When it was finally decided that Ball should trade on his own name, all the stops were pulled to make sure he finally achieved the success McGee felt he deserved. Despite much promotion including saturation on the ITV Chart Show with videos featuring the likes of Anna Friel and Noel Gallagher, the campaign failed. Four singles were released from the album Catholic Guilt, only two of which reached the Top 100 including Love Is Blue which hit #59. The album failed to scrape the Top 200 and Ed stopped trying to be famous.
8. JC Auto - Sugar
Following the break up of the hugely influential Husker Du, frontman Bob Mould formed Sugar and had immediate success with their classic debut Copper Blue which hit the UK Top 10. Not all the tracks recorded for the Copper Blue sessions were included on the album, the heavier material held back for an EP release the following year. The EP, Beaster, did even better reaching #3 in 1993. The album being loosely based on religious imagery, JC Auto is short for Jesus Christ Autobiography. Sugar recorded one more album, File Under Easy Listening before Mould went solo.
9. Cracking Up - The Jesus & Mary Chain
JAMC were among the first signings to Creation and in 1984 released their infamous debut single Upside Down. The sound of this, and their debut album Psychocandy, set a new template for a new generation of indie bands where feedback and noise were of equal importance to the tune - this manifested itself in the shoegaze movement kickstarted by My Bloody Valentine. Despite not charting, Upside Down sold consistently and was a major success story for Creation. On the back of this, the band were signed to blanco y negro where the band stayed for the next decade. Always on the brink of implosion, the band had one more album left in them before they would self destruct and who better to pick it up than Creation where it all started. The writing was on the wall though. Cracking Up was the comeback and the album's lead single and hit #35. The poppier I Love Rock N Roll similarly only scraped the Top 40 and the album Munki only scraped the chart at #47. A decade later, they'd be back....
10. Gathering Moss - Super Furry Animals
The last great band to sign to Creation, SFA released their debut album Fuzzy Logic in 1996 featuring this track. Never a band to be categorised, SFA started life as a techno band - roots which have never gone away - before picking up their guitars and releasing two effervescent EPs on the Ankst label before releasing their debut single Hometown Unicorn on Creation. Although this just missed the Top 40, they'd have no trouble with their next 19 proper single releases which all charted in the 40. Trouble is, they also set themselves an unwanted record; SFA became the band to have the most Top 40 singles - twenty - without ever reaching the Top 10. The closest they got was their 1999 single Northern Lites which reached #11 and they've also hit #s 12, 13, 14, 16 and 18.
Sunday, 10 July 2011
19-Track retrospective of the now 30-year strong British independent label 4AD.
1. Debaser - Pixies
Released as the opening track on Pixies' second album Dolittle, Debaser, whilst never released as a single, became an indie dancefloor classic for the next two decades. On the release of band retrospective Death To The Pixies in 1997, Debaser was chosen for release as a single for the first time and hit #23 in the UK chart.
2. Hypocrite - Lush
In 2001, Manic Street Preachers hit the headlines for releasing two singles on the same day. This was reported as an industry first. It wasn't. In May 1994, Lush also did this for much the same reason as the Manics, showcasing two sides to the band's music (though not the first band to do this...) Desire Lines was a 7 and a half minute atmospheric slab of noise rock; Hypocrite was the first signs of the band shedding their shoegaze roots and heading into a more indie-rock sound they would perfect on their 1996 album Lovelife. Both singles reached the Top 75, Hypocrite being the most successful hitting #52, and comes from the album Split.
3. Go Lady Go - Mojave 3
Formed from the ashes of early 90s shoegazers, Slowdive, Mojave 3 released five albums between 1995 and 2006, picking up considerable praise from the music weeklies on their way. This track was taken from their most successful single, Some Kinda Angel, which charted at #101 in 1998.
4. Lantern - Tanya Donnelly
As singer and guitarist in three of the most critically acclaimed American indie bands in the 80s/90s, Throwing Muses, The Breeders (for one album) and Belly, Tanya Donelly's future as a cult solo recording star was assured. On the back of this success, Donnelly's first solo album, Lovesongs For Underdogs, featuring this track, hit #37 in the UK. Though sales slowed down over the next few years, Donelly's status as one of the USA's most respected alternative female singer-songwriters is undiminished.
5. Wish I Had A Wishing Ring - His Name Is Alive
Experimental rock from Michigan held together by Warren Defever. A cult concern, the band have released 10 albums and a host of singles in a 20 year career on 4AD. This is taken from the 5th album Fort Lake. A 13 minute version also appears on their single, Can't Always Be Loved.
6. Mania - Throwing Muses
Throwing Muses were one of the most influential American independent bands of their time and were one of the first to deploy two girls at the forefront of the band, the aforementioned Tanya Donelly and Kristin Hersh. Despite Donelly's departure in 1991, Hersh stayed with the band until their split in 1997 and their subsequent reunion. This is taken from their third album in 1989, Hunkpapa, which hit #59 in the UK.
7. You And Your Sister - This Mortal Coil
This Mortal Coil wasn't a band as such - it was more of a collective of 4AD's finest acts brought together by label boss Ivo Watts-Russell. The project spawned three albums, their most well known moment coming in 1984 with the interpretation of Tim Buckley's Song To The Siren featuring Cocteau Twins' Liz Frazer on ethereal vocal duty. This track was featured on their third and final album Blood, featuring Breeders'/Pixies guitarist and singer Kim Deal and, who else, Tanya Donnelly.
8. Shaolin Satellite - Thievery Corporation
Thievery Corporation's mix of lounge, dub and World music has kept them this duo going for 7 albums in a 16 year career. Shaolin Satellite was their first 12" single and was featured on their debut album, Sounds From The Thiery Hi-Fi, in 1997.
9. Barry (Gi Gi Galaxy Remix Edit) - Gus Gus
Icelandic electronic band with eight albums under their belt. Barry was featured on their eponymous debut album released in 1995 under the name Barry (White Pride) and was re-recorded for their breakthrough international album Polydistortion. The full length version of this remix was released as a 12" in 1997.
10. Urban Light 12am - Cuba
Big beat featuring former Chapterhouse drummer Ashley Bates. This is the 12" version of the band's debut single in 1998 (the single version was called Urban Light 7am) Their debut album, Leap Of Faith, was released in 1999 by which time they had changed their name to Air Cuba. Chapterhouse wasn't their only shoegaze connection; other band member Christopher Andrews was married to Slowdive's Rachel Goswell.
11. Unofficial World Cup Theme - Colourbox
English electronic group active between 1982 and 1987. This track was released in 1986 as a single on the same day as another Colourbox single, their cover of Augustus Pablo's Baby I Love You So, thus beating Lush and the Manics into the record books. Although the track was considered for consideration for the BBC's World Cup coverage for the 1986 Mexico World Cup, it eventually lost out to Aztec Lightning by Heads. Colourbox dissolved after they achieved international success with their collaboration with AR Kane. The names may not be so familiar but the single will be...it was named Pump Up The Volume under the pseudonym M/A/R/R/S....
12. Saints - The Breeders
Pixies and Throwing Muses singer and guitarists Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly (her again) formed The Breeders in 1998 with Deal's sister Kelley. Donelly left after the release of their debut album, Pod, to concentrate on her next band Belly and success soon followed with their second album Last Splash which hit the Top 5 in the UK. Along with the classic Cannonball, the album featured this track which was released as a single in the US and parts of Europe.
13. Big Jesus Trash Can - The Birthday Party
Early 80s dark, Gothic post-punk fronted by a young Nick Cave who, despite little commercial success, influenced a generation of post punk acts over the next decade. This was taken from their album, Junkyard, which hit #73 in the UK in 1982.
14. Tomorrowing - Lisa Germano
Critically acclaimed alternative American singer-songwriter who has released ten albums in a career spanning twenty years. This was taken from her 1998 album, Slide, her last for 4AD. Germano is also a session musician of some repute and has appeared on albums by Simple Minds, Eels, Iggy Pop and David Bowie.
15. New Jersey - Red House Painters
San Franciscan alternative rock group who confusingly released two eponymous albums in 1993. This was taken from the first, widely known as Rollercoaster due to the album's cover art. The second, for the same reasons, is known as Bridge. After six albums, the band called it a day in 2001.
16. Your Ghost - Kristin Hersh
Although still leader of the reunited Throwing Muses, Hersh has had a successful 8 album solo career. This song started it all and was released as the first single from her first album Hips & Makers in 1994. A combination of her Muses background, a vocal contribution from Michael Stipe and an unexpected topless photo shoot in NME helped this become her most successful single in the UK, though just missing the Top 40 at #45
17. American Dreaming - Dead Can Dance
Ethereal, ambient, neo-classical dream pop, or something like that, from Australia. The band released seven albums between 1984 and 1996, this track featuring on their 1994 live album Toward The Within.
18. Sweet Unknown - The Hope Blister
Much like This Mortal Coil, The Hope Blister were formed by 4AD's own Ivo Watts-Russell though this time with a steady line up and focusing on cover versions. This is from their 1998 album ...smile's OK. Sweet Unknown was originally recorded by Cranes on their 1997 album Population 4.
19. Pearly Dewdrops' Drop - Cocteau Twins
The forefathers of the kind of Gothic dream pop that litters this compilation, Cocteau Twins aka Liz Fraser, Simon Raymonde and Robin Guthrie were together for nearly two decades until their dissolution in 1997. Critically acclaimed and commercially successful, Cocteau Twins scored 8 chart albums and released a number of charting singles and EPs. This is the 7 inch version of Pearly Dewdrops' Drop taken from their Spangle Maker EP which became the band's highest charting single in 1984. Those unfamiliar with the Twins' output may know Fraser's vocals from the single version of Future Sound Of London's Lifeforms and, most famously, Massive Attack's Teardrop.