Eyeplug defines ‘Indie’ derived from Independent music as a term used to describe independence from major commercial record labels and an autonomous, Do-It-Yourself approach to recording, publishing and even distribution. The concept was all about autonomy and the kudos and integrity of ‘DIY not EMI’ as an ethic. Drawing on inspiration from skiffle, The Velvet Underground, and the garage/frat scene of yesteryear, the 1980’s witnessed the first devoted ‘Alternative’ Chart in the music press. John Peel was a champion of the army of bedsit poets and youth club combos.

The ethics seemd to fade  as economic factors became a harsh lesson for many, and various off-shoots, styles, sub-genres were soon to emerge to keep the student halls buzzing and the NME alive and kicking. The Indie scne of today has many shapes and facets and many blurry lines.


Celebrating the Do It Yourself aesthetic, the Eyeplug Indie pages present the totality of independent rock, from the nascent stirrings of ‘Spiral Scratch’ in 1976, through that decades subsequent label boom and the rise of the C86 bands, to the present day pioneer spirit of bands like the Flats and labels such as Damaged Goods.


Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Indie Tags:,
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The Orders – If Gold Dust Turns To Stone

The Orders are a young three-piece creating waves currently on the Isle of Wight and way beyond. With recent BBC interest and a double appearance at the recent Isle of Wight Festival including a stint on the main stage, things are looking rosey for these ‘Caulkheads’ (please feel free to google that one and no it is NOT a type of drug!).

We had a  nice fresh signed copy of ‘If Gold Dust Turns To Stone’ on chunky 7-inch Vinyl, wrapped in a cool sleeve drop through our letterbox, recently and it went straight onto the turntable, and after several spins a Summer smile finally appeared on this cynical old face.

Kyle Chapman (guitar and vocals) seems at present to be the main songsmith for the Orders with shards of Telecaster guitar chopping into the fray with tidy support from the throbbing, wandering, bass-punch of Issac Snow (Bass & Backing Vocals) with the entire thing held together with the safe time-keeping of Joe Rowe on (Drums & Percussion) who for his age is a mighty fine drummer!

The A-side track, ‘If Gold Dust Turns To Stone’  has an energetic youthful vibrance with a ‘surf’ style twang here and there and a solid indie-sike- pop feel with mixed hints of The Kaiser Chiefs, The Stone Roses, The Artic Monkies, The Who, The Jam, all mashed up as influences, but with a nice dreamy twist. I even recalled a glint of ‘Crocodiles’ era Bunnymen and very early Cure, in there, as the nice space in and around this track with layered backing vocals added a lift and a confidence for even brighter things ahead. It would be great to get the Drummer Joe to add into making, even more, 3-part harmonies central to their sound and identity. The folks at Humbug Studios seem to have caught a moment in time nicely too!

The sound has a tinge of 1960s Freakbeat, West-Coast Sunshine Pop, and mixes that with a dose of gritty Britpop. They certainly have a poppy appeal that spills over onto the B-side track ‘Time Ran Circles’ which has a Roses’ style outro interplay at the end which illustrates how this band have already absorbed tons of melody, harmony and rhythmic spirals that will no doubt come out into their set list in the future.

So this gets a firm thumb’s up from us here at Eyeplug and we look forwards to seeing and hearing more from them soon!

Web Links
Instagram – @the_orders
Twitter – @the_ordersuk

Buy record here – £8.50 including p&p



Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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July 13, 2016 By : Category : Indie Modernist Music Picks Pop Psychedelic Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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Artifact, Part 4 – Longjohn Reviews

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Creation -Artifact

Artifact – The Dawn Of Creation Records

Cherry Red CRCDBOX19

The final two discs (4 & 5) on Creation Artifact – The Dawn of Creation Records 1983-85, are devoted to demo recordings and BBC Sessions which were hosted by Janice Long and the late John Peel. It is to some extent generally agreed that demos and BBC sessions are a hard sell for casual music fans, and the question that might be asked is do we really need a pile of old scrappy recordings and demos from bands that were not exactly household names? On the other hand if you are a rabid fan of obscure Indie bands and share the same obsession for music as the late John Peel then these discs will be a welcome inclusion on the Artifact box set.

Listening to demos is a good way for the listener to see how a song develops into the finished article. However, it is rather difficult to get a feel for the entire recording process here, as the tracks on disc 4 have to a large extent been completed. Some of the recordings have variable sound quality and some of the bands and in particular Biff Bang Pow! have an amateurish lo-fi quality, which would not have sounded out of place on the Pebbles and Back From The Grave compilation albums.

However, the bonus of having these demos included on the Artifact box set is that some of these tracks are finally seeing the light of day for the first time. There are three songs included from Meat Whiplash, and their only other known recording was the Jim Reid produced single Don’t Slip Up, (which is included on disc 1). It is a shame that these tracks were never officially released as Meat Whiplash have been unfairly tagged as a Jesus & Mary Chain clone, and what the fuzz guitar drenched Losing Your Grip, Always Sunday and Walk Away demonstrate was that Meat Whiplash had promise that was never
quite fulfilled.

The other highlights on disc 4 are The Jasmine Minks, who have five songs included here, but superior versions of these songs can be found on discs one and two of the Artifact box set, and the Cut Me Deep (The Anthology 1984 – 2014) compilation. The inclusion of the X Men also boosts this disc considerably and A Tryst For Liszt, Stone Cold One Note Mind, Home and Planet Of The X all have that exuberant and infectiously poppier take on the Pyschobilly genre.

The final disc in the Artifact box set comprises BBC Sessions, and it would be fair to say that for most musicians a spot on the John Peel show was a coveted slot indeed. These sessions gave the artists a chance to reach a national audience, and even though many of the bands did not necessarily have any notion to be famous, a John Peel session did their chances of some success no harm at all.

The Loft, The Bodines, The Jasmine Minks, The Moodists, The X Men and Meat Whiplash are all included here, and almost without exception John Peel was one of the very few people to give these bands valuable airplay, and it is thanks to Peel that many of the releases by these bands ended up in our record collections.

The BBC Sessions on this disc do not really reveal anything that has not been heard already on the previous 4 discs, and in hindsight it might have been more beneficial to include (if available) on this disc some dialogue between John Peel and the artists who appeared on his show, and ultimately including two discs of demos and BBC Sessions does feel a bit repetitious as superior versions of some of these songs already appear on the first three discs, which makes discs four and five for rabid music fans and completists only.

Many of the bands included on Artifact are to some extent long forgotten, which makes this box set such a timely welcome. The success of Creation Records was built on the foundations of these pioneers, and although the quality of the output is variable there is still more than enough to keep listeners happy for many hours, and for better or worse this is where the story of Creation Records begun and the rest as they say is history. BUY HERE!

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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November 14, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Post-punk Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Artifact, Part 3 – Longjohn Reviews

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Creation -Artifact

Artifact – The Dawn Of Creation Records

Cherry Red CRCDBOX19

The third disc on the Creation Artifact – The Dawn of Creation Records 1983-85 is a mixed bag of assorted tracks, which cover a few singles, demos, album tracks and live performances, which were recorded at Alan McGee’s weekly club night The Living Room. This event was held in a tiny room above a pub in central London and it served an important purpose in that it gave a lot of unknown bands some much needed live exposure, and it provided McGee with the income to start Creation Records.

The money Alan McGee made from The Living Room was used to produce records by the bands that played at this weekly event. The studio time afforded to these bands in the fledgling years of Creation was pivotal as it gave them the time to hone and perfect their sound. Even more importantly these bands had a passionate music fan in McGee, who respected them as artists and always made sure that what profits were available was distributed evenly among the bands, and more importantly any surplus income was used to fund the release of
their records.

Alan McGee’s first band The Laughing Apple also featured Primal Scream guitarist Andrew Innes, and they recorded three singles for their own Autonomy label, including Participate/Wouldn’t You this single is featured here with McGee on bass. Participate in particular is a bruising slice of minimal post-punk, and you can’t help disagreeing with the self deprecating McGee, who felt prompted to start his own record label because he came to the conclusion that as a musician he was not particularly good.

Biff Bang Pow! reappear on disc three with an alternative version of Fifty Years of Fun and Waterbomb. The aforementioned is almost identical to the single version featured on disc 1 while Waterbomb is an unremarkable instrumental, which featured on their 1985 debut album Pass the Paintbrush Honey.

Not much is known about J.C Brouchard only that he is French and he is a fanatical fan of the brilliant Indie band Felt. His fanaticism is such that he even penned a (rather hard to find) book about the band called Felt, Ballad of the Fan in 2011. However, Brouchard did a bit of moonlighting as a recording artist in the 1980s, cut a single with Biff Bang Pow! in 1985. The swirling dreamy psychedelic inspired Someone Stole My Wheels/Sunny Days has all the jangly psych pop hallmarks that were associated with Creation acts at the time, and this somewhat melancholic single is a real hidden jangle pop gem and a welcome inclusion on this disc.

The Revolving Paint Dream also pops up again with an early version of the single In The Afternoon. This single is possibly sung by Andrew Innes, and although this is a pleasantly surreal recording it has the feel of a demo and does not capture the essence of the official single (on disc one of Artifact), which featured the beautifully breathy and fragile vocals of Christina Wanless.

The Bodines have an alternative version of God Bless featured here, which is identical to the original on disc two and you could question the merits of its inclusion here. Two tracks by The Jasmine Minks The Thirty Second Set Up and Somers Town, are taken from their 1984 debut One Two Three Four Five Six Seven, All Good Preachers Go To Heaven album. Both of these tracks blend the energy of post-punk and 1960s melodic pop, and The Jasmine Minks deliver these songs with their usual soulful verve and energy.

The Jesus & Mary Chain have a couple of demos included here and the first is an early version of their debut single Upside Down, which is a fuzz driven garage monster that almost captures the drenched in violence ear bleeding assault of the original single, which is featured on disc two of Artifact. However, the real surprise here is the demo of Just Like Honey, which is arguably better than the original version of the song that opens their 1985 debut album Pyschocandy. This version of Just Like Honey is a tambourine and acoustically driven track, with just a hint of electric guitar coming in at the midway point of the song. To describe a song by The Jesus & Mary Chain in their 1984-85 period as fragile and gentle is a bit of an anomaly, but that is exactly what this song is, and it is quite brilliant and could have been released as a single in its own right.

The Membranes formed in 1977 and have released a slew of singles and albums spanning an almost 40-year career. They recorded one album The Gift of Life on Creation in 1985 and two tracks from this album are included here. I Am Fish Eye and Gift of Life are delivered with sledgehammer abandon and are a discordant blend of experimental noise and distortion. How many people can claim to have heard of The Membranes? It seems remarkable that this band are not more well-known, but as these two tracks demonstrate The Membranes were very influential and this influence surely must have rubbed off on Sonic Youth, and one listen to their albums Goo and Daydream Nation may just clarify
that influence.

The very first album release on Creation Records was Alive In The Living Room. This album consisted of live recordings between 1983 and 1984 and these tracks, including a few bonus live tracks are also included on this disc. The first thing that will strike the listener is the poor sound quality of the recordings. Apparently members of the audience were roped in to help with these live recordings, and they were given hand-held recorders to capture the whole live experience of the bands who played at The Living Room.

The poor sound quality also highlights another problem and that is with the bands themselves. Many of them seem to be willfully incompetent live and the shambolic mess of these live gigs is epitomized by The Legend (AKA Jerry Thackray) in particular, who seems to take a delightful glee in his own incompetence as a musician, when he ironically announces to the audience that he will play Arrogant Bastards slow because he does not know any chords.

However, a shambolic live performance can still be an absolutely powerful and defining moment for the band and audience. So the live tracks featured here are not total disasters, and the stand out moments are The Jasmine Minks cover of the Love Garage-Punk classic 7 & 7 is, and The Television Personalities A Picture of Dorian Gray. There is a charm in the amateurish so-called musicianship to some of these live recordings, and if you are a fan of shambolic pop then you will appreciate these recordings, but will no doubt be put off by the poor sound quality, which make them sound nothing more than unofficial bootleg releases.

Stayed tuned for the final installment of the Creation Artifact series as we take a closer look at discs 4 and 5. BUY HERE!

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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November 5, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Post-punk Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Artifact, Part 2 – Longjohn Reviews

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Creation -Artifact

Artifact – The Dawn Of Creation Records

Cherry Red CRCDBOX19

The second disc on Artifact – The Dawn of Creation Records 1983 – 85 contains the rest of the singles from this period, and a fitting way to kick off this disc is to unleash the full throttle ear bleeding assault of crude noise makers The Jesus & Mary Chain. The East Kilbride upstarts released just the one single on Creation Records, and what an explosive debut this record was. Upside Down and its B-side, Syd Barrett’s darkly satirical Vegetable Man was the blue print for the industrial white noise fest of J&MC seminal Pyschocandy album.

The Jesus & Mary Chain became one of the most divisive and controversial bands of the 1980s. Their live appearances were notoriously shambolic, and the band played with wrecked instruments, including a bass with just 2 strings and a drum kit that contained only 2 snare drums. This minimalist approach and seemingly total disregard for their craft was deceiving as brothers Jim and William Reid were music obsessives and were enthralled to 1960s pop in the shape of Phil Spector’s girl groups and The Beach Boys.

The Jesus & Mary Chain seemed to blend the cacophonous noise of the Velvet Underground’s White Light, White Heat and Sister Ray with songs that appeared to be influenced by 1960s Brill Building pop. Upside Down is a scary, brooding, violent mess of a song and it could be argued that this record was single-handedly one of the biggest influence on the nascent Shoe Gaze scene.

Their cover of Vegetable Man is incredible and it would be fair to say that Syd Barrett’s songs were too precious, disturbingly beautiful and uniquely him that no one should go anywhere near them. However, The Jesus & Mary Chain capture the essence of Vegetable Man and convincingly put their own musically chaotic stamp on this track, without making it appear like a pale imitation of
the original.

The absurdly named Meat Whiplash also came from East Kilbride and they released only one single on Creation Records in September 1985. They can claim some notoriety for being the opening act at the infamous North London Polytechnic gig headlined by The Jesus & Mary Chain, in which Meat Whiplash guitarist Stephen McLean threw a glass bottle in to the crowd, which proved to be the catalyst for a riot. The single Don’t Slip Up and its B-side Here It Comes are both fuzz guitar wig outs, with vocals seemingly recorded in the far distance to the point of being inaudible. Although this single owes something of an obvious debt to the Jesus & Mary Chain, it was still distinctive enough to earn a number 3 place on the indie charts, where it spent an incredible 13 weeks.

Taking their name from an Enid Blyton children’s novel, Five Go Down To The Sea recorded a 12” single at the tail end of 1985 featuring Singing In Braille, Aunt Nelly and Silk Brain Worm Women. These three tracks are unique in that they sound like nothing else on disc 2 of Artifact, and Five Go Down To The Sea obviously did not care about commercial success and seemed happy to make a discordant induced noise with crunching guitar riffs, pounding drums and nonsensical lyrics, which suggest that Captain Beefheart may have been an influence on this group.

Derbyshire four piece The Bodines recorded just three singles for Creation Records and featured here is the 1985 single God Bless/Paradise. This particular single has an Echo and the Bunnymen feel with its choppy guitar sound and high tempo, which was almost typical of that 1980s indie guitar sound and this particular single it could be argued was a direct influence on the nascent jangle pop scene, in which The Bodines were an integral part of as their subsequent single Therese featured on the NME’s influential C86 cassette.

Melbourne band The Moodists only made a fleeting appearance on Creation, and included here is the 12” EP Justice and Money Too; You’ve Got Your Story and Take Us All Home. The Moodists already had 2 albums under their belt prior to cutting this EP with Creation, and apparently the EP was recorded in a day and it is perhaps this haste, which makes this record a little unremarkable and hard to distinguish from other more well-known Creation acts on this disc like the The Bodines and The Jasmine Minks.

Biff, Bang, Pow, The Jasmine Minks, The Loft and The Pastels all make a reappearance on disc 2, and normal service is resumed as the jangle maestros all pitch in with shambling melodic pop that is almost typical of what you would except from bands signed to Creation Records in this period. Love & Hate by Biff, Bang, Pow yet again doffs its jingle jangle cap to 1960s British Psychedelia and What’s Happening/Black & Blue by The Jasmine Minks are both sung with plenty of soul, and this particular single has a harder edge and a sense of post punk urgency that still sounds fresh as a daisy 30 years after it was
originally recorded.

It is still quite unfathomable why The Loft were not more well-known and why they remain nothing more than a cult phenomenon to rabid Indie music fans. Their final recordings for Creation include Up The Hill & Down The Slope, Your Door Shines Like Gold and Lonely Street. The sublime Up The Hill & Down The Slope climbed to the top of the Indie charts in 1985; and it is this particular song that should have been the catalyst for The Loft to go on to greater commercial success. But this never happened and the band imploded in spectacular fashion onstage at the Hammersmith Palais in 1985, and front man Pete Astor eventually went on to form The Weather Prophets.

Yet again it is The Pastels who taste the sweetest as their final single on Creation demonstrates. I’m Alright With You, Couldn’t Care Less and What It’s Worth are delivered in that deceptively lazy manner, with hushed vocals and wry humorous lyrics. The Pastels lacked any kind of clichéd rock n roll machismo and their influence is subtle but far-reaching. They quietly blazed a trail throughout the 1980s Indie guitar scene and they are remarkably into their 34th year and despite only five album releases in this period they are still a relevant force to be reckoned with. One listen to I’m Alright With You, (this version being superior to the latter album version) will hopefully show the listener why the band are still revered by many, including their more celebrated Glaswegian counterparts Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura.

There is probably nothing more to say about post 1990 Primal Scream, and their success has rendered them part of the rock n roll aristocracy whether they like it or not. Their emphatic fusion of dance and rock n roll from Screamadelica to their latest album More Light has put them in a rare position of still being somewhat relevant when virtually all of their 1980s peers have either disappeared or are happy to continue rolling out the yawn inducing but lucrative greatest hits tours.

It would be fair to say that pre 1990 Primal Scream output is virtually unknown, however, they did create such lovely, gentle dreamy jangle pop that deserves more consideration. All Fall Down/It Happens was issued in 1985 and these tracks show the first incarnation of Primal Scream in thrall to 1960s West Coast pop and psych. Bobby Gillespie’s vocals sound sweet and fragile and the hazy sunshine pop of these tracks serves as a more than welcome antidote to the rumbustious shenanigans of some of the other artists on disc two of Artifact.

Keep your eyes peeled Indie boppers for part three of the Artifact story coming your way soon. BUY HERE!

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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October 29, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Post-punk Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Artifact, Part 1 – Longjohn Reviews

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Creation -Artifact

Artifact – The Dawn Of Creation Records

Cherry Red CRCDBOX19

Artifact – The Dawn of Creation Records 1983-85 is a 5 CD box set containing 124 songs devoted to the early years of Alan McGee’s Creation Records. The collection pulls together singles, album tracks, rarities, demos and BBC sessions by a diverse range of bands including The Pastels, The Bodines, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Loft, Primal Scream, The X Men, The Legend, The Jasmine Minks and The Membranes.  Also included is a 12,000-word essay by journalist Neil Taylor plus a detailed biography off all the bands signed to Creation Records in this seminal period.

When Alan McGee set off from Glasgow to London in 1982 to pursue his dream of being a musician and forming a band, it would be fair to assume that he could never have envisioned that within 15 years he would form arguably one of the most influential indie labels in the UK, sign some of the most iconic bands of the 1980s and 90s, sell half of Creation Records to the monolithic and corporate Sony Records, and end up in No 10 Downing Street quaffing champagne with Tony Blair.

The story of how Creation Records came into existence is fascinating as it is improbable. The label itself was started in 1983 in conjunction with McGee’s influential club night The Living Room. This seminal early club night was set up to showcase bands that McGee liked, and the success of the club allowed McGee to use what profits there were to start releasing singles by the bands that were a regular feature at The Living Room, and thus Creation Records was born and the rest as they say is history.

This article will focus on disc 1 of the Artifact box set and the bands featured here became the blueprint for what might be considered the definitive indie sound, while embodying the DIY ethos of punk. However, there are a few exceptions on this particular disc that do not necessarily fit this indie stereotype. With hindsight you would have to question McGee for giving any recording time to The Legend, aka Jerry Thackray. Both singles are feature here, including the ridiculous 73 in 83, as well as You (Chunk Chunka) Were Glamorous, The Legend! Destroys The Blues and Arrogant Bastards. These songs are spoken word, rambling and nonsensical but good fun nonetheless.

Glaswegian cult band The Pastels teamed up with Creation Records to record a number of singles in 1984, including Something Going On, Stay With Me Till Morning, Million Tears, Surprise Me and Baby Honey. The core members of the band were Stephen McRobbie and Katrina Mitchell, and the songs included on this particular disc clearly display their talent for recording joyously catchy shambling pop songs with nonchalant ease.

The problem for The Pastels was that they were never very prolific and only sporadically recorded when they seemingly felt like it. This might explain why they remain nothing more than a cult phenomenon. The highlights here are Something Going On and the beautifully ragged and dreamy pop of a Million Tears. These melancholic and angst ridden tracks are joyously uplifting, despite the sombre nature of the lyrics. Both songs are addictively catchy and they feel immediately familiar after only a couple of listens.

Revolving Paint Dream and Biff, Bang, Pow, owe something of an obvious debt to 1960s pop, beat and psychedelia. Revolving Paint Dream cut 2 singles and 2 albums with Creation, and featured here is the first single Flowers In The Sky. The band featured former Primal Scream guitarist Andrew Innes and on occasions Alan McGee.  Flowers In The Sky has a continuous Byrds like guitar chime, and despite its slightly pastiche nature it is nonetheless still a great and catchy tune. However, it is the B-side In The Afternoon that may attract the listener’s attention. This particular track was written by McGee and has a dreamy swirling organ sound coinciding with a chiming guitar melody. The song is completed by Christina Wanless’ breathy, fragile vocals, which blend in beautifully to create a song that should have been a stand alone A-side in its very own right.

Biff, Bang, Pow took their name from a song recorded by 1960s freak beat band The Creation. Their early singles featured Alan McGee on guitar and vocals and included on this disc are the singles, Fifty Years Of Fun, Then When I Scream, There Must Be A Better Life and The Chocolate Elephant Man. All these tunes have clear British psychedelic influences, and a swirling organ sound (Then When I Scream) and jingle jangle guitar wig outs on the other 3 songs. There is also a cheeky bit of riff pilfering on Fifty Years Of Fun, and the opening guitar chords sound suspiciously like the opening riff to The Who’s So Sad about Us.

The Jasmine Minks have several songs included here including, Think, Work For Nothing and Where The Traffic Goes, which were all recorded in 1984. These singles are fast up-tempo numbers, featuring the almost customary jangly Rickenbacker sound, and sit somewhere between 1960s pop and post punk. Not much is known about the X Men, but they did record some great records for Creation in 1984. Bad Girl, Talk and Do The Ghost all have a demented psychobilly thrash and these tracks would not sound out of place on the Nuggets and Pebbles compilation albums. Do The Ghost in particular is a fantastic single and on first listen there is a somewhat obvious comparison to the deranged sound of The Cramps. However, according to the notes in Artifact the song was inspired by The Novas stupendous 1964 single The Crusher.

It seems incredible that The Loft only released 2 singles with Creation Records, before disbanding in 1985. The 3 songs included on this disc demonstrate a promise that was never quite fulfilled. Why Does The Rain, Like and Winter all have the customary jangly guitar work delivered by guitarist Andy Strikland, and ruminative lyrics delivered in a somewhat languid tone by singer Pete Astor. These tracks ably demonstrate that The Loft could have been a creative success, but they never stuck around long enough to find out. Why Does The Rain in particular is an outstanding single and was one of the first releases on Creation Records, and it is arguably the most accomplished single that was released by the label in 1984.

This early period for Creation Records yielded nothing by way of commercial success but as the songs on this disc demonstrate it was a creatively fertile period for the bands on this fledgling label that always seemed on the verge of bankruptcy. McGee’s dedication and love of music somehow kept the label afloat and gradually the hit records and commercial success arrived, but that is another story. Stay tuned pop pickers as we delve even further into the Artifact box set in part two, which will be coming your way soon! BUY HERE!

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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October 21, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Post-punk Reviews Tags:, , ,
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The Primitives – Scenester LP Review

The Primitives

Everything’s Shining Bright The Lazy Recordings 1985-1987
(Cherry Red CDBRED 560)

A fitting, comprehensive double CD companion to ‘Lovely’, Cherry Red’s re-release of the Coventry band’s ‘hit’ material, ‘Everything’s Shining Bright’ has The Primitives how many prefer them, however; at their fuzzy, distorted best.
As the blonde band most likely, and fronted by Tracie Cattell (think; a young June Whitfield on sugar mice) with her sweet voice winding languorously around the shambolic, pedal-to-the-metal guitars and tidy, collected drums, it’s easy to hear what grabbed the attention of the mighty RCA records.
‘Thru The Flowers’ is a distorted delight, with a beautiful guitar interlude in the middle. ‘Across My Shoulder’ marks an early appearance of the whining feedback and grinding guitars that featured on so many records of the period, although rarely in a pure pop context like this one.
‘She Don’t Need You’ is another that hits the ground running, with a deft winding vocal and a jarring dead halt. I always cared for the tin-can echo of ‘Really Stupid’ a classic, mocking thrash of a song that made even indie fans want to shake a shoe to it. A bit.
‘We Found A Way To The Sun’s lively, romantic opening chords and syrupy lyrics are an obvious tribute to the New York band everyone referenced in those far off days. The welcome use of Eastern rhythms informs ‘Where The Wind Blows’, a jangly number with a characteristic vocal from Tracie.A personal favourite, the country-tinged ‘Stop Killing Me’ is a high spot, closely followed by the psychobilly workout, ‘Buzz Buzz Buzz’.
The slow, relaxed guitar arpeggio of ‘Laughing Up My Sleeve’ and ‘Ocean Blue’s pleasing impact percussion recalls the New York band once more, this time in romantic mood. The slightly faster treatment of the guitar-heavy ‘Shadow’ does the song many favours, and the echoey voice and winding, magical beat has a suggestion of danger to it.
A new(er) version of ‘Thru The Flowers’ graces this CD; a sweeter, countrified voice and twangy guitars blended with some pizzicato strings works well, without over-egging the pudding. ‘Everything’s Shining Bright’ peps up the shaking rockabilly beat and romantic vocal, to good effect.
The inclusion of some demo material reveals their rawness; ‘Nothing Left’, with the vocal rarely getting to the sweet spot, and lacking punch; ‘Really Stupid’ is gloriously fuzzy, and even though the vocal has the same weakness, there’s a hint of quality in it. Live demos follow but add little to the story, and our first CD ends with a soft, warm vocal and the lively twang of another version of ‘Nothing Left’.
The second CD is a mixed bag of unreleased sessions and a live set at the ICA, both from 1987, which show what can happen when a band aim to be shambolic. Aside from an affecting ‘Nothing Left’ , a lively ‘Out Of Reach’ and the slow, well executed ‘Don’t Want Anything To Change’ , the latter of which hints at a possible future direction that never happened, the extras here add little to the story of one of the 80’s finest pop bands. The band’s trademark fuzzy sound and Tracie’s sweet voice are a little lost bouncing around the ICA’s hard white walls. Most songs sound rushed, as if the place was about to be closed down by the authorities, which I suppose was a possibility, given some of the artwork which graced its walls at the time. Turn up the volume, bass and treble fully and enjoy. BUY HERE!


Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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August 16, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Music Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Nick Churchill’s Interviews Alex James

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Nick Churchill Interviews

NC: It’s late autumn in the year 2000 and the Britpop party was over long ago, leaving its most creative mixers with almighty post-Millennial hangovers. One of its most dedicated bons vivants, Alex James is sitting at his glass-topped kitchen table in the basement of his home in Seven Dials, off Covent Garden. Over there is the double bass he used on the previous year’s hit single Tender, as copious tea and too many cigarettes (his Camel, mine Silk Cut) fuel a lively, chatty conversation of many things, of cabbages and kings.

Blur have spent most of the year on a break as reports emerge that dark forces have been threatening to swamp the band. However, a new single – the musically adventurous groove of Music Is My Radar – is on the cards and Blur: The Best Of compilation is due on October, affording hungry critics (if not the band itself which saw the release as little more than another piece of ‘product’) the chance to review Blur’s sonic progress and considerable achievements since their 1990 debut, She’s So High.


They didn’t tour in support of the compilation and it would be another year before they reconvened in London to start work on the album that would become Think Tank. Not long after, guitarist Graham Coxon was asked to leave and the remaining three members continued recording in Morocco and finally in Devon.

By the time the album came out in 2002 the musical landscape was barely recognisable from that of the mid-1990s that had been Blur’s hitmaking peak. Parklife, Country House, There’s No Other Way, The Universal, even Song 2 had fused punk, 60s psychedelia, music hall and pure pop to provide Britpop with a cor-blimey soundtrack and the band lived lives to match.

The songs on Think Tank though captured a more mature band of musicians, in control, deep in thought and anxious to explore a vast musical palette that would inform singer Damon Albarn’s subsequent music with Gorillaz and The Good The Bad & The Queen. It was a record made by three men (and a cast of collaborators) who had completed a long and riveting journey over the previous 12 years and needed to go their own ways – Albarn deeper into music, drummer Dave Rowntree into politics and the law; and Alex into starting a family (he married Claire Neate in 2003), farrning and cheesemaking.

Blur’s reunion in 2009 was one of the most welcome of recent years and saw Graham happily back in the fold. For now, their future remains unwritten.

The full extent (and maybe some more) of Alex’s partying was revealed in his rock ‘n’ rollicking 2007 autobiography, A Bit Of A Blur, as was his most public apology to his long-standing then-girlfriend Justine with whom he’d been in a relationship since they were teenagers together in Bournemouth, but on that autumn day in West Central 2, Alex was presenting the acceptable face of being young, gifted and good looking in the wake of London’s longest and grooviest party since the swinging sixties.

Especially as his mum is going to be reading this in the Echo!

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NC: How’s things?

Oh, mum’s really excited, I feel like a 21st century Max Bygraves!

Blur’s history is really that of the 1990s. We’ve all seen the headlines, heard a few of the rumours, partied to the hits and sweated at the gigs. We’ve been having a ball, but it looks like you’ve been having a bigger one.

I guess popular culture is inevitably analysed in terms of decades and fortunately we formed in 1990. But there’s been two babies arrive in the band as well so I think we all kind of thought we’d have a bit of a break this year, an underline if you like. Graham and Damon both have little girls. Things have changed. I’ve had 10 years as a pop star, it’s my normal life.

So, you’re pretty used to it all then?

Yes. Yes. You get used to everything. Camus said that after three weeks in prison you stop thinking about everything else. I’m sure he’s right. Even in the ridiculous days of when we were on the news all the time life still takes on a routine. When you’re on tour it can it is brilliant, but your time is organised so effectively that the only choice you end up with is what you want to eat. It can be like that, but you learn how to organise yourself. It’s really bad manners to moan. I’m not moaning. Pop stars who moan, it’s just very bad manners to do that.

But the life is alien to most people – it seems incredibly glamorous – so can it ever be just a job?

I don’t know if it is just a job actually. Being a musician is easy. All you’ve got to do is think about music 24 hours a day. It’s never really felt like a job.

You did well at school, Bournemouth School, and went to Goldsmiths to do French, you weren’t destined for music. Or were you?

It’s funny that it is something that if I told my careers officer I wanted to do this he’d’ve told me to get a fucking life, but the point is that music is actually Britain’s fifth biggest export industry. It is a viable thing to aspire to. It’s kind of taken as a given that you know what you want to do and it’s actually one of the hardest things you have to do is decide what you want to do.

If you know what you want to do you’re really lucky. I worked in Safeway for a year – horrible!

Probably in a town like Bournemouth there aren’t the possibilities that there are somewhere like London. Blur are very much a London phenomenon. It’s the old story: people come to London and meet each other. That’s the hardest thing to do is to meet the people.

You were a regular face in the crowd on the Bournemouth music scene of the mid- to late-1980s. Things were pretty good for a while back then weren’t they?

There was a brilliantly vibrant music scene in Bournemouth when I was growing up. It wouldn’t have happened if there wasn’t. I still keep in touch with some of the Readers Wives and some of the Farkle Family. The bass player from the Farkle Family is an A&R man at Echo Records, Darren Woodford. He’s done really well, he’s got Moloko and they’re really good. A lot of people are teachers, which is worthy.

Did you have ideas to be a professional?

No, I always told everyone I was going to be a rock star. Wanting to do something is kind of 80% of it, it really is.

What about when Blur got together? In the early days you were called Seymour and you’d been in bands in Bournemouth, did it feel like a long term band?

I don’t think we’ve ever sort of envisaged the end. Especially when you’re young like that you think everything’s going to last forever. We formed as friends really and that’s the best way really for these things to happen I think. It has to be on that basis. It would be unbearable to be anything else, it just can’t work. You can’t be in a band with people you hate. It’s horrible when people do fall out – usually about power struggles.

There have been all sorts of reports about tensions in band as you moved on from The Great Escape into the darker waters of the Blur album.

Yeah, but during There’s No Other Way me and Graham we having fights with each other in people’s cars and in radio stations. There’d be punch-ups and we got all that out of the way quite early on. I think all you want to do when you’re 21 is getting fucking pissed and show off and you’re given unlimited capacity to do that with big amplifiers and loads of booze!

Which you may have embraced more readily than the others?

Well, the whole of the music business is carried out in pubs and bars. From the moment you sign the deal the booze starts flowing.

Silly question, but was it fun?

It was Operation Fun, I think it has to be. I think people can tell when you’re bored.

As a fan it’s always interesting to watch a band grow up. You follow the songs and hear a bit about how the people involved are growing as people. Other things become important. There are marked changes between the Blur of The Great Escape and the Blur on the Blur album and again into 13 which seem incredibly personal.

The words were the last thing to get written on that record. I think what we were trying to do with that record was convey some attempt at emotion. If you can do that then people… I think you’ve just got to keep yourself interested and once you learn how the industry works you can operate a lot more effectively and efficiently. You got to keep thinking of new reasons to get up in the morning. The only thing you’ve got to go on in making music is your state of mind and it’s a natural thing to do to change.

It’s inevitable really. All great bands do it. You have to be bold but you can get into trouble, especially kids –  they can tell if you mean it. That was something that ended up becoming a bit of an albatross really when it escalated with Oasis when sales became the ultimate test of whether something was good or not. The bands that I liked when I was growing up – The Smiths, New Order – I suppose Blue Monday sold a lot but The Smiths never sold many records, but they’ve gone on to become the most influential band of the 80s probably, especially amongst American bands. I don’t think they ever even toured America, did they? They’ve gone on to become, you know, you couldn’t have REM without The Smiths.

Did Blur set out to make something that would last?

When you start out you’re just absolutely convinced of your own genius. Even when I was in bands in Bournemouth I thought they were the best band in the world – and, who knows, they may have been, but… All novices want to destroy the machinery and then become part of the machinery. I am an old fart! The last part of growing up.

It wasn’t long ago you were writing columns like Alex James Is Unwell for Select magazine, and something similar in The Idler.

I can’t remember writing that. I think we all walk very close to that line, don’t we? “And so far from satisfaction,” Joni Mitchell.

Can life in Blur be a bit of bubble? Is it difficult to take yourself out of it? You still visit your parents in Bournemouth quite often, is that your great escape?

Definitely, being in touch with some kind of some kind of normalness. The great thing about being in a band is that there’s four of you to keep each other sane, in no matter what kind of petty way. It is a playground, the music business – it’s all ‘He doesn’t like him’, ‘They’re a gang’, that kind of thing.

Any regrets?

Je ne regrette rien. Depending on how you’re feeling today you either regret everything or you don’t regret anything.

So there’s no middle ground?

If you’re happy then there’s an infinite number of ways of getting to that point.

Do you feel lucky, punk?

Yeah, you think it’s fucking lucky I bumped into these guys, but then you think it’s a fucking good job my parents met. So, yes, I feel fucking lucky.

I try and analyse it and I think all you can say is that you’ve got to take your chances. None of us had any idea what a life in the music business had to offer really, we just had some vague aspirations of being paid for being drunk and gorgeous! We all took a risk really. To find something you like doing you have to. You do meet, you can have everything, but something’s got to happen as well, something extra’s got to happen; I think what that extra thing is that people have got to like it!

There’s a lot of mystique attached to the music business but the longer you go on doing it, intellectual property is just as substantial a commodity as bricks and cement. I’m all for debunking the mystique of music really. We’ve spent a long time playing together and we’ve got good at it.

How long can it go on, can Blur be this generation’s Stones?

I like the way Marianne Faithful [with whom Alex wrote some songs] has aged more than the Stones. I think she has always kind of reflected how old she is in her music. They’re a nice bunch the Stones, god bless ‘em, but I think REM have done it very elegantly, thank fuck for REM. They didn’t really go globally massive until about their seventh album.

You’re 31 now, do you worry about dignifying your age?

It doesn’t matter how old you are. It’s not something you really contemplate. It’s not something I contemplate very often. As long as you’re willing to adapt to the way you feel you can’t go wrong. The future is top secret isn’t it? We’ve all become in demand as songwriters and producers. There’s plenty of ways it can go. I wouldn’t trust a record producer under 30.

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Country House – can you explain that?

What were we doing there? It just all got a bit… It was our baroque period. I think! What the hell we were doing taking that round America, it was complete blind optimism. It is a beautiful little cul de sac in the history of pop culture, but it’s a fucking odd record.

An oddity?

It’s veering towards a kind of musical, The Great Escape was a musical really, it wasn’t an album. It was a stage musical with a chorus line.

Strange tour too with Damien Hirst’s stage set design incorporating those giant burgers and pill. Was that done to get up the noses of Oasis – even a little bit?

When we making that record we weren’t thinking about them at all. That just came to light afterwards really and then we kind of made our bed and it wasn’t something that was ever going to… It’s an odd record, very sort of doom-laden. It’s the bleakest record we’ve ever made. Country House is up, but it’s about this guy who’s a knackered, twisted, failure of a man who has run away from everything.

Not just your record company boss Dave Balfe then?

He was chuffed to bits actually. Noel Gallagher lives in a big house in the country now, doesn’t he? It’s kind of ironic.

You’ve recently acquired a euphonium, why?

The truth about that was my dad wanted a euphonium and I got them to give me a free one if I had my photo taken with it, so it seemed a fair trade. I have a blow on it when it comes out at Christmas. Sugar Town by Nancy Sinatra, that’s the best bit of euphonium playing and it just gets better.

How’s your musical? [* It had been reported Alex was working on a musical with songwriter Jez Ashurst, with whom he later co-wrote ex-Coronation Street actor Richard Fleeshman’s second single, hit Hold Me Close]

I’ve seen Jez a few times, but it’s a three year project that will most likely break a man! That’s something to do for when I go bald I suppose. It’s a genre that needs reinventing I’m sure, but it’s a lot of work though. It’s like drug habits or something – everybody’s got one. How’s your musical? Talking about your lumbago!

What’s next for Blur?

I will definitely make another record. We’ve got expensive lifestyles to support. Probably around Christmas-time I think. It’s been good. We’ve all gone off and done our own thing so we can bring that back to the band. It does feel like coming home. I’m all for everybody doing that.

Is it daunting to step off the rollercoaster and take a break?

It was only a six-month break. There’s so many things you want to do and you haven’t got time because you’re always on fucking tour.

You don’t always get as much time to make music as you’d like?

That’s very true. It only takes three months to make a record and 18 months to market it and the cost of the thing. It costs. You can get…

[breaks to arrange lunch with a friend] (in faux American accent:) Let’s have lunch: that’s life in the music business!

So, you can get a top producer for two grand, you can get a studio for two days for around a grand a day, that’ll get you the best studio. You can make a number one record for four grand. But you can’t get it to number one unless you spend another two hundred grand on a video, marketing, touring, doing TV shows always costs the record company money.

The product itself doesn’t take much time and energy – four grand when you think about you sell half a million of them. It’s the great thing about pop music. Something that films suffer from is that it takes two years to make a film and there’s so much money at stake but by the time the thing comes to the light of day it has been focus grouped to hell, I mean, they change the ending if focus groups don’t like it, so there’s very little freedom.

But four grand? Fuck that, get on with it. It’s all about just having one great idea; and, you know, I’ve done it and that’s a bloody great thing.

The 90s was a decade that was defined by its music in a way that the 80s wasn’t I think. Three minutes can change your whole being. JK Rowling said that in the Harry Potter books, that music is the strongest magic of all – maybe I’m a fucking magician!

There have been questions about your fidelity to Justine…?

We split up for a year or so, but we’re back together. Known her since school. It’s still the person I will spend my life with – that’ll look good! It’s been said before but fame is an aphrodisiac, I’ve not really been made famous in the way that Damon has. If you want to dedicate your life to shagging you can, you don’t have to be in a band to do that… Hello darling! (Right on cue, Justine comes in upstairs.)

So, would you say you are more sensible now?

Yeah, balanced. You have to have something to come home to otherwise you just drift around the world, don’t you, if you don’t have that sense of home?

What are you excited by?

I’m perpetually thrilled by everything and awed as well. I think it’s important never to lose your sense of awe. I’d hate to be jaded.

You have some fairly stellar circles of friends, but do you still have the eyes of a fan?

Yes, but I’m sure they do as well or they’re not fucking human.

But some of them get so huge they must lose touch forever, how about the Stones?

There does come a point when you think: ‘Actually it’s not going to stop, I’ll be living in La La Land forever’ and once you’ve worked that out then you can carry on.

Are you there?

Yeah, maybe.

Could you envisage doing something other than music – writing or acting perhaps?

I’d like to write, writing’s good [he does a monthly column for Q magazine]. More than act I think. It’s that old thing of falling into the trap of thinking you can do everything just because you’re good at doing one thing and a lot of offers do come your way. I like to work in food, become a food scientist and research the properties of seaweed.

Can you cook?

Yeah, Yorkshire pudding. Like all men I can cook one thing. My grandad was a cook – at the [five star] Royal Bath Hotel in Bournemouth.

How often do you get back to Bournemouth?

Four or five times a year. My sister doesn’t live in Bournemouth any more, she lives in Farnham, at college. It’s just really evocative and as you get older you start to really cherish childhood. I can’t imagine a better place to grow up than by the sea. People are less tainted.

You were a regular at the Hot House [club, now Sound Circus] a few years ago.

That was great. Bacchus was good, that’s a shame that’s gone. There’s a lot of nightclubs in Bournemouth. It definitely did me good growing up in a kind of pleasure haven, but I guess this is a tourist resort where I live now.

Are your wild days behind you?

I hope so. It’s not so elegant to be wild in your 30s is it? When you’re younger it’s like being put in a speedboat and you say: ‘How fast can this go?’ I think everyone has a fairly wild time in their 20s – your 20s are for getting drunk and as long as you know when to leave that behind you’ll be all right.

Do you, or did you, have a problem with drink?

That’s a thing you’ll have to ask the others! I think if the work’s getting done. Getting drunk is fun, but you have to stop drinking sometime. As long as there’s someone drunker than you then you’ll be all right. Some good advice – as long as you take one day off a week to phone your mum.

How did your parents react to those reports?

Well they’d go: ‘Are you drinking too much?’ Then they’d come up here and get absolutely hammered in the daytime! I don’t think it was a problem, but there’s booze everywhere you go.

Anything stronger?

Not really, I think booze is the best rock ‘n’ roll drug, especially when you’re travelling as it just levels everything out and increases your sense of possibilities.

You’ve said there’ll be another Blur record, but what about the long term?

For sure. You have to take it one record at a time. I think the reason we’re not touring anymore is I think it’s the records you are remembered by, ultimately.

So, will you tour?

Yeah, you know. That is something we will do but we’ll be more relaxed about it. Because of the global nature of the industry when you’ve had hit records you’ve got to be everywhere at once so it does get a bit mental. I reckon we’ll just get a bit more relaxed about it and get on with it.

What do you do for kicks?

I fly aeroplanes. I’ve been into Hurn a few times and got really shouted at last time for taxi-ing the wrong way. I fly little ones, I’ve got a real old banger of a plane. There’s a discipline to flying planes which I like. Getting a pilot’s license, there’s a lot of Zen about it – you learn a lot about yourself and being responsible. It’s a good way of touring as well and you can smoke in your own plane!

The drummer was flying and we had to go to Manchester or something and we said can’t we take your plane and he said yeh, and we got in and it was 40 minutes to Manchester, fucking hell! This is great!

I had a go. I’ve got a real old banger for an aeroplane, nothing flash.

I wouldn’t say I wake up in the morning and go ‘Where am I going to get my kicks today?’ not like when I was 25. I read a lot.

Do you get bored?

Probably, I must do.

Are you dangerous when bored?

I think I have a lot of my best ideas when I’m bored; or at least idle. Let’s set The Lord’s Prayer to the tune of Auld Lang Syne, that was a good idea.

Ever fancied doing the rock star thing and living abroad?

I’ve always liked France. I was doing a French degree when I was at college. I don’t have loads of homes. People who have lots of homes and don’t live in them are silly – you can only live in one place at a time. Something about France though, everybody’s got another country don’t they?

Maybe after the second best of album?

Goodness knows, but it’s kind of nice just to be in one place for a reasonable length of time. I always imagined myself living in the country when I was little, but I’m a total city mouse. New York, Barcelona, Paris, London … cocktails! It’s very damp in the country, have you noticed?

Purbeck, that is one of my favourite places in the world. Kimmeridge is somewhere that I’m drawn back to again and again and again. It’s just so utterly timeless and kind of austere. The Purbecks are a lovely secret that we shouldn’t tell too many people about. I’m drawn there as much as anywhere really.

Can you foresee fatherhood?

Yes, I do actually. Two of the band have just become fathers so I don’t want to look like I was just joining in there! I think people are having babies later in life and I would like to have kids one day. Maybe we should get a dog first and see if it dies!

How are you with gadgets?

I rejected and refused to acknowledge technology for years, but now I’m just completely up for gadgets these days – anything that requires a battery I’ll have one! The internet’s not quite as good as watching telly yet; I think it will be soon. We’re kind of Stone Age cybermen, aren’t we? It’s very exciting.

Dave’s our computer faculty really. I’ve become very fond of Japan actually in the way that everything is designed to last you two years and is then thrown away. It’s a different way of doing things to us but it’s equally valid if the technology is going to be better in two years.

We’re an old country, resistant to change.

Yes, and we’re obsessed with our past in a very smug way with Americans!

Do you think the internet will bring everyone closer to everything?

It’s just one more media, it’s great. It’s just going to make it easier for everybody to have access to stuff.

How you do deal with getting recognised in the street?

I usually put a hat on. When you‘re hatching your little schemes you don’t want to be noticed, but it takes a lot of energy. But then everybody’s famous these days. How many people are in the national papers regularly every year. Probably something like one in a thousand people is in the papers every week, it’s not that unusual.

More people are famous for being famous though, what do you make of Big Brother?

That was a brilliant job, I loved that show.

Have you earned your fame?

I’m not really famous though, I’m in a famous band. It’s very convenient really, I only get recognised by people who like the band.

So you get the pluses and not the minuses?

Hopefully, yes! I know famous people and I’m not like them.

How do you judge if it’s all worth it?

I still feel like I want to get out of bed in the morning to do it. I don’t think you ever get to the point where you feel like you’ve achieved anything. As soon as you do achieve anything, you’re on to the next thing to the point where you just go: ‘rRght, finished’. Memory is not what the heart desires, you’ve got to keep it coming.

Is that a pressure?

Some people react badly to pressure and some people don’t. You would say this is a high-pressure business.

How do you contribute to writing Blur songs?

It’s pretty much like you see it, the drummer plays the drums, the bass player plays the bass, Damon sings and Graham plays the guitar.

Damon will turn up with something usually as he writes most of the stuff on acoustic guitar, so it’s like a vocal melody probably with no words or maybe one line and then we just bash it around. The new single, [Music Is My Radar] he just brought in a little squeezebox thing he’d bought for 99p or it came out of cracker or something and it was that and a rhythm.

You just become a production team, on the new record the drums are brilliant. Everybody’s really pulling their weight on it.

I think we just all enjoyed hammering it out together. We thought we were making a b-side. We’d recorded what we thought was going to be the single so there was no pressure at all and we were just able to go in there and totally let our hair down. You can make music, or you can make records like that these days because it all goes onto a computer and you just edit the best bits together. That’s how this record was made, half an hour jam.

We’re so familiar with each others’ sense of musicality or whatever and you can communicate after playing together for such a long time. Damon is the driving force, but there’s only room for one of those in a band really.

Is Blur a democratic band?

No I don’t think so. Anyone who tells you a band is democratic is lying. I think we’re all totally flying. There is a dynamic there, there has to be, but there’s always a point where he’ll just say fuck off!

That’s why it’s relevant that we’re a band. There’s something about the four of us playing together that works, there’s a chemistry there that’s genuine and as long as that exists we’ll continue to make good music. Who knows how long it will last for? We’ll know when it’s not there.

Any chance of a solo album or project?

The thing about music is that it’s a very collaborative process. Even if you wrote and produced or whatever on your own you’d still have to have a record company or a video made or whatever. Normally you are collaborating with a band or you are collaborating with a producer. Learning how to collaborate is a big skill to master. It’s not one person.

Does music excite you in the same way in always did?

Yeah, if not more because I kind of know more about how it all works. We’ve always got lots of other collaborations on the go, about half of which work. Just odds and sods appearing in a record shop near you soon!

You mean like Fat Les?

I think we might do the French football song. I’d quite like to enter Fat Les in Eurovision, I think that’s the future of that band. It’s a good cast. Fat Les will probably end up being a musical, you got a good cast for a musical there. God knows what’s going to happen there.

Fat Les does Country House?

No, Jerusalem – a 200-year-old poem and an orchestra! Yes, it’s a bit Country House in spirit. I think the Country House video – Graham hates it – but it’s very colourful. But you know if you’re going to get an artist to make your video you know you’re going to get good colours.

Would your parents give interviews?

I’m very nervous about my parents being exposed. I’m sure my mum would like to do it, but let me talk to them. I feel like I trust you but it’s very easy for them to look foolish.

They are obviously very proud of you.

I’m proud of them. I try and kind of keep them away from it all – it’s not a real situation. It’s fucking ruthless out there.

If you’d only ever had one big hit, what would be your legacy?

Well, Song 2 earns the most, so that would be it. It’s on its third car now, I shit you not! The Americans want to release it again, it’s still being a hit in America. It’s crazy, four years later. It’s just ridiculous. If you get a couple of records away in America you’ve made it. It kind of has a knock-on effect in all these weird places like Madagascar.

The industry and our perception of success are very western-centric.

A third of the world doesn’t have electricity so how do they play their guitars?

If it ended tomorrow, would you owe anything? Are you comfortable?

You’re never quite comfortable enough, you can always get a bit more comfortable. There’s a guy called John Kennedy who runs one of the big labels, used to be lawyer – a lot of people who run big labels are lawyers, particularly in America. He said the only way to make a lot of money out of the music business is to write your own songs, record your own songs, be able to play live to a lot of people and sell a fuck lot of records for a long time.

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You mean like Chris de Burgh?

Lady In Red. It’s my mum and dad’s favourite. I think it’s a beautiful song, I wish I’d written it, but I’d change the rhyme dance and romance.

He meets his market?

I don’t know if you can do that, but you have to believe in it. I’m sure Jackie Collins thinks her books are brilliant, but I think you’ve got to believe what you’re doing is brilliant otherwise it just doesn’t wash. I’ve tried doing music that way, but it doesn’t work.

I don’t think The Great Escape was any more contrived than Blur was really, The arrangements were a lot more elaborate, but the core of the thing was there were more devices involved, singing about a third person or whatever, but you can only sing about yourself really and there’s only about five things you can say: I love you, I hate you, I’m bored, I’m angry and vindaloo!

Where did you get your first bass?

Southbourne Exchange & Mart for 50 quid, sold it when I was at school. It’s a real shame some of those shops have gone.

Was Graham he first person I met having got out of the car at college?

Yeah, stupid isn’t it? Scary. But when you look back at the whole of your life you think your parents might not have met.

You changed the name from Seymour to Blur, did that sound like a big band’s name? Did you still have that confidence?

Oh, totally. You’ve got to have. It doesn’t happen unless you’ve got that confidence.

So you sit in the pub, talking about being famous? Did Seymour do the same?

Yes, so did [Bournemouth band] The Rising. If you talk about it seriously enough it will become real. As well as actually talking about it you’ve got to become pro-active and take what is the next step. The old drive thing.

You can sit around being a genius all day, but you’ve got to stick yourself in people’s faces. That’s what cuts the mustard. It’s amazing, the quality of the music that is made In this country is amazing. You can go to Camden on any night of the week and see three great bands, fully formed. They need to get money spent on them. It takes a million quid for a major label to launch a band. It’s a lot of money.

Do you fancy finding a protégé?

I ran a label for a while, but if you have a failure with that kind of investment, any kind of failure will sink the whole thing and that’s what happened to us. We tried to compete with major labels at Christmas time with a record that was never going to get on the radio. It was all good but proteges are all very well but you can’t really control creativity at all. That is just kind of learned, it just happens.

You’ve got more freedom in Blur though.

You have to earn that. Certainly, early on, it was very regimented and the purse strings were being held by other people. You’ve got to go into the studio and do this…

When people are doing that you either learn how to stand on your own two feet or you get knocked over. It’s very easy to see the transition in the life of the band between the first album which does have some great moments but it was A&R-ed in a very particular way to fit a market that existed at that point in time, which we benefited from no doubt.

Modern Life Is Rubbish, the second album was just completely against the grain of everything that was happening, but that is the only way to proceed. I think you have to make your own world and live in it. If we hadn’t have had people saying exactly what we should do we probably never would have worked out what we wanted to do, so it cuts both ways.

Modern Life Is Rubbish seemed to herald a change that nobody was expecting – is it your best album?

It didn’t have the singles on that Parklife did, but three of the songs on that record were done on the same day. They were great times actually, believe it. When you first thought you’d found a direction and you’ve had a vision and you were totally convinced of it and you don’t care who else believes you or what anyone thinks.

It was the first Britpop record. The American label wanted us to re-record it with Butch Vig who made Nevermind and we said no! Why? Because at that time there was just nothing else happening in this country. There was Suede I suppose, but they were never going to be our pals were they?

Probably not, but it had kind of foretold the Blur v Oasis thing.

It had. It’s a fucking playground, I told you.

Who hates you at the moment?

I think we’ve all grown up a bit and grown out of it.

Nick Churchill

Nick Churchill has written professionally for more than 25 years. Currently a busy Journalist undertaking a wealth of celebrity interviews and human interest features to writing speeches, generating web and media content and production scripts. His first book, Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth – got great reviews. He has also worked on projects for Duncan Bannatyne, Harry Hill, James Caan, Scott Mills and Peter Dickson, the voice of The X Factor. His obvious passion for words and natural genuine integrity is most refreshing.

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August 5, 2015 By : Category : Eyeplugs Features Front page Indie Interviews Tags:, , , , ,
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews June 2015 (Part 1)

Lost Dawn: Lost Dawn (Easy Action)

Falmouth’s Lost Dawn has the kind of fearless attitude that makes some bands great and others not so much. Their self-titled premier full-lengther is the kind of album that will grow on even the most jaded fan of this kind of music – a cross between overt pop inclinations with a slight psychedelic twist, and loose nut, rave-up experimentalism. The first two-thirds of “LD” lo-fi’s its’ way into your brain cells wonderfully. There is a distinct Marc Bolan vibrato to the effects-driven vocals that meshes well with the reverb boogie of “Breaking Bad” and “Count On Me”. Drums splash and attention spans expand and it all makes perfect contrary logic until “Manchild” when, for over six minutes the band builds from a fairly typical rhythmic pattern and heads for the very outside edges of their sound. Call it a rave-up or simply a progression to the limits in the confines of the song-it works to create a new sense of what this band is capable of when they stretch. Closing with hippie dream ballad “Kennedy”, Lost Dawn turns the tables again and all told this pleasing set builds a strong case for watching what this band does to follow this.
(11 tracks) GRAB A COPY HERE

Honey: Weekend Millionaire (Easy Action)

Blame grunge. Blame Courtney Love. Blame anything else but poor Cornwall, U.K. trio Honey for their immediately identifiable retrograde sound. Sure, every band has roots and most bands can’t shake a sound-a-like framework at the outset of their careers. We’ll give the three in Honey their first fault. Originality is a difficult and delicate thing to grab and shape into something a band can stand behind proudly. It needs to come from within the group rather from their record collections… eventually. Singer/guitarist Sarah Marie Tyrrell has guts to spare yet mewls and roars like you’ve heard it before. Points given for a guitar-centric roar that chop chops at chords defiantly while drummer Sammy and bass guitarist Ele complement heroically. That part works. Sometimes the deck requires a quick re-shuffle before the players can get down to a serious game. Honey is at the table and ready to deal except the cards are marked and the dealer already knows exactly what will be played next. Next?
(10 tracks) GRAB A COPY HERE

Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can’t be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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June 22, 2015 By : Category : Dark Eyeplugs Features Front page Indie Music Post-punk Psychedelic Reviews Rock Tags:, , ,
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Cherry Red Album Reviews – Sept 2014 by Long John

inspiral_ carpets

Inspiral Carpets

The Inspiral Carpets return with their first new album in 20 years. The band’s self titled and fifth album will be released on Cherry Red Records this October, and comes hot on the heels of recent single Spitfire. The Inspiral Carpets were a seminal band for many and perhaps they are not as celebrated as The Stone Roses, The Charlatans and the Happy Mondays. However they were easily as important and also as commercially successful as their contemporaries. They are perhaps best remembered as a singles band, and from 1988 until 1993 they released something in the region of 20 EPs and singles of immense quality. The Inspiral Carpets were a prolifically impressive band that could also boast 4 top 20 albums to their name by the turn of 1995, as well as the highly collectable Dung 4 demo cassette, which it could be argued was their first album proper.

The Inspiral Carpets effortlessly blended Psychedelia and Garage and added to the mix was Clint Boon’s swirling 1960s style Farfisa organ, which he used to such stunning and propulsive effect that it became a lead solo instrument in its own right. The irresistible result can be heard on a slew of brilliant 3-minute organ driven singles that became Indie anthems in the late 80s and early 90s. Clint Boon neatly summed up the sound of the Inspiral Carpets in a recent interview as ‘working class Oldham meets timeless garage pop’.

The Inspiral Carpets have been reunited since 2011 with original vocalist Stephen Holt back in the fray. Happily for some the Inspiral Carpets have not just jumped on the nostalgia industry bandwagon by cashing in on their former glories at muddy festivals in front of thousands of beer sodden part time gig goers. They have come back with an album of 12 spirited and sprightly songs, which the band has acknowledged as something of a return to their garage band roots. It is safe to assume that what they mean is a return to their pre-pop days of the Dung 4 demoes.

The inevitable question that fans will ask about the new album is whether or not it stands up against their best work? Well after several listens it actually is a decent effort and for many this may come as a surprise because as time passes the creative urge and talent does inevitably wane. Luckily the Inspiral Carpets just about pull this off and there is enough on this new album that will please die hard fans, especially the collaboration with John Cooper Clarke.

The new album is a nod backwards to the late 80s when the Inspiral Carpets were knocking out catchy EPs and singles at will. The Inspiral Carpets of that era were also making music that was a further nod back to the Garage/Psych of the 1960s, which is so brilliantly typified on the first Nuggets compilation. However, then as is now the band were able to put their own indelible stamp of Indie Pop charm to their music without sounding like a pastiche to a bygone era.

The new album by and large works, but occasionally stumbles due to the somewhat listless nature of the lyrics. The one song where this is obvious and where the album goes into a bit of a lull is on Flying Like A Bird. The balladic nature of this song means that the listener can’t help but pay attention to the lyrics, and if you are someone who places emphasis on song writing then this particular song is not 100 per cent convincing.

However, the rest of the album fizzes along and has all the hallmarks of the classic Inspiral Carpets, including the brilliant sounding Farfisa organ. It is fair to say that Clint Boon’s ludicrously catchy swirling sound does not take centre stage as it did on previous Inspiral Carpets records, but it is still such a huge part of the bands musical identity.

The album kicks off with the punchy Monochrome and this song does set the agenda for an energetic set of songs and other standout tracks include, Calling Out To You, Forever Here, which is more than a cheeky nod to The Charlatans Sproston Green and Then, Our Time, which surely has single written all over it, and Let You Down, which is dominated by the repetitive swirl of the Farfisa before the song is almost completely stolen by John Cooper Clark or rather his alter ego Dr Reliable whose prescription of ‘7 of these washed down with fizz’ should not be taken literally teeny boppers.

The album closer Human Shield just shades the 6 minute mark and this mid paced stomper does not outstay its welcome largely in part to Clint Boon’s keyboard nod to early Pink Floyd. This is a solid if not spectacular album and will largely appeal to the already converted. However, if new listeners are intrigued by the Inspiral Carpets then they should turn their attention to their peerless back catalogue, including Dung 4, which is now available on CD and Life their first studio album. Also worth delving into is the highly recommended and essential singles collection, and if that has not quite sated your appetite for the Inspiral Carpets then their new effort might just be a worthy addition to the afore mentioned collection. BUY HERE!

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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September 24, 2014 By : Category : Indie Music Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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