Monday, October 30, 2006


Peel Sessions 27

First up a little word concerning EZArchive and me. As some of you may have realised of late there have been some transitional problems with EZ, which is where my files are stored, this has been due to their new version which should be fully operational for the beginning of November. What this means is that in the near future all the links from their old site will be dead, although I will have the possibility to post the new links, do bear with me as this will take some time. It is for this reason that this week looks like being a little bit quiet, I see little point in putting up a link and then have to change it a mere mater of of days later. The good news is that next week I'm on holiday and what with the kids being back at school I can do as I please! If things go to plan I should have some good new and maybe even exclusive material to post in the near future.
And the Peel session today comes from the Brian Jonestown Massacre, who I shall be off to see playing in the fine town of Montpellier this coming Thursday, having already seen them earlier this year at a festival in Spain, I know what I'm letting myself in for! This time round seeing as it is at the Rockstore, which you should know by now is an old church, it appears to me to be the ideal place to see BJM, who after all claim in their own words to be keeping music evil ! According to the radio one John Peel site BJM recorded one session in October 1988 from which four songs were broadcast 1. 'Jennifer' 2. 'Who' 3. 'Hide & Seek' and 4. 'Feel It'. These songs are available here in a handy zip file. For me there is a little mystery that maybe someone can resolve for me, the files are on the BJM site and are clearly labeled as being Peel Sessions, note the plural form of the word. Contained here are 16 tracks which equates to 4 sessions, so a) where do the 12 extra songs come from? or b) was there more than one Peel session?

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Made In France

Part two of of our on going series of artists from you know where, two ladies for you this time round, maybe we could call them chics, sorry for the pun I couldn't resist it!

I always find it a pleasure to discover new music and especially when the points of reference are as strong as in this case. Mai are a true European duo consisting of a French boy, Dorian providing the music and a Swedish girl, Johanna giving it her best with her seductive voice. The result can be sampled on their debut single 'Snowing Downtown' released by the French label Nacopajaz, the single would appear to be very much a limited affair available only on 7" vinyl. I for one am eager to hear what their forthcoming album sounds like as this three minutes is a nice downtempo jazzy number that has me wishing that Portishead and Mazzy Star were still together and making music.

Elli Medeiros
Maybe some of you will have heard of this woman? Born in Uruguay she arrived in France at the age of 14. She was vocalist with France's first punk band Stinky Toys, who were on the bill of the original 100 club punk festival along side the likes of the Sex Pistols. Their international career did not really take off but they did manage a number of albums for Polydor France, the first of which was delayed because the record company execs found the cover colour, grey, to be too downbeat! Elli pursued a solo career after the split and had several hits in France with music of a more latin colour. Since the late eighties she has been inactive in the world of music, either raising her children or concentrating her efforts on acting. The good news for music lovers is that her long time friend Etienne Daho has coaxed her back into the recording studios, and V2 are releasing the results as 'EM'. Her voice as heard on this extract 'Souleve-Moi' reminds me very much of Marianne Faithfull, as does the subject matter which would not have been out of place on 'Broken English', something about a hooker and her pimp! Check out her web site here where you can also learn more about her films, there also some nice photos.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


The Crucial Three

Long before there was the Funboy Three, hidden away in Liverpool for approximately 6 weeks in 1977 was a band known as the Crucial Three, in much the same way as the London SS a few years before them the only people to have seen this legend were those invited into their rehearsal space. The groups three main members were Pete Wylie, Julian Cope and Ian McCulloch each of whom were later to find fame of differing degrees, Wylie using Wah as his trademark, Cope with the Teardrop Explodes before starting a long career as a solo artist and McCulloch as head haircut in the raincoat wearing Echo & The Bunnymen. Despite the brevity of their lifespan the group managed to attain legendary status, the music press joke is that band split up because it was impossible to contain three egos of that size in the one room! What is known about them is that they met at a Clash gig at the renowned Liverpool club Eric's, and by the time they filed out into the street a new band had been formed. Rehearsing at Wylie's home, they were in the words of McCulloch "just mates, who never did anything and wrote just one crap song", there is no recorded evidence left behind by the band, so if anyone offers you a Crucial Three bootleg, refuse it! Despite this several songs written during this period were to be recorded later 'Books' was to appear on the debut album from both Echo & Teardrops, 'Robert Mitchum' found its way onto Copes 'Skellington' and the garage sounding 'Spacehoper' had a new home on Cope's 'Saint Julian'.
As already mentioned our three protagonists have kept on going in the music biz. For McCulloch the years after Echo split up were to be lean as his solo albums failed to inspire the masses this resulted in him re-uniting with his old colleagues in 1997 under their old name and they are still together to this day. Their latest release is the live 'Me, I'm All Smiles' (their second live since 1997) recorded in November 2005 at London's Shepherds Bush Empire. Pete Wylie has had different degrees of success going under variations of the Wah! theme. For me his most crucial work were those two first singles under the banner of Wah Heat!, if my memory serves me well these were firm favorites of John Peel, it was here that we heard the true Clash disciple shine, of course later he was to have real chart success but the greatness has already been diluted. As for Julian, the Teardop Explodes were to last until 1993 and from then on it was solo. After a shaky start, very much a case of the drugs don't help he hit his stride with a trio of classic rock god style albums, 'Saint Julian', 'My Nation Underground' and 'Peggy Suicide' spanning the end of the eighties and the beginning of the nineties. I was lucky enough to see him playing in Toulouse during this period and can assure you that on stage he was every bit as good live as on record! Since then he seems to have done pretty much as the mood has taken him, Krautrock being one of his preferred themes, recent years have seen a return to more garage inspired music.

1. Wah Heat! - 'Seven Minutes To Midnight' to be found on the career spanning compilation 'The Handy Wah! Whole' great record, terrible pun!
2. Teardop Explodes - 'Traison' a French language recording of 'Treason' to be found on the remastered version their debut album 'Kilimanjaro' which sadly some record company executive has decided to replace the original artwork.
3. Echo & The Bunnymen - 'Rescue' live version to be found on 'Me, I'm All Smiles'.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


The Tallahachee Bridge Song

It has been described as Being a simple acoustic guitar played against a background of strings that create the perfect setting for Bobbie Gentry's mature almost husky voice, using traditional blues scales in much the same way as 'Black Magic Woman' did. Sounds pretty academic stuff, all that I know is that Bobbie Gentry rightly made her name and fortune as author and interpreter of 'Ode To Billie Joe', one of the all time great songs. It was originally released in 1967, spent 4 weeks topping the US charts, peaked at no.13 in the UK, sold in excess of 3 million copies, Inspired a film of the same name in 1976, was awarded the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999, has been one of the lead tracks on many various artist compilations. Not bad really for a song that started off as the B side of her first single 'Mississippi Delta' which was ignored as disc jockeys started spinning Billie Joe. I've always said that one of the signs of a great song is the number of cover versions that exist and 'Ode To Billie Joe' is no exception having been interpreted by Booker T & The MGs, Ray Charles, Howlin' Wolf, Ralph McTell, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Billy Joe Spears, Jackie Wilson, Tammy Wynette, the list is endless. Apart from posting the original I have also chosen three cover versions the first from Sinehead O'Connor which was to be found on the War Child compilation 'Help', while staying faithful to the original it reminds me of Dylan's 'Ballad Of Hollis Brown' both in musical terms and in it's subject mater. The second cover is from a lesser known female artist Phranc and is a straight folk run through of the song, which can be found on her EP 'Goofyfoot'. Last up is an instrumental from blues prodigy Lucky Peterson, this time its an instrumental driven by Lucky's Hammond B3, an instrument and sound that I've always been a sucker for. An interesting observation, all the cover versions I know have preferred the spelling Billy as opposed to the more hillbilly Billie! I find that the original has an under exploited funky side, should anyone know of a funk cover version I'd be happy learn of it.

1. Bobbie Gentry - 'Ode To Billie Joe'
2. Sinehead O'Connor - 'Ode To Billy Joe'
3. Phranc - 'Ode To Billy Joe'
4. Lucky Peterson - 'Ode To Billy Joe'

Bobbie Gentry has long since retired from the music biz, having written a song like this royalties should keep her rich for the rest of her days. Her whereabouts and activities today remain a closely guarded secret. Those of you wishing to further investigate her works should check out the compilation 'An American Quilt 1967-1974' you won't be disappointed.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Peel Sessions 26

Today sees the UK release of 5 different Peel sessions from artists residing on the enormous Polygram empire, after the release of The Housemartins BBC sessions it looks like maybe this major has realised the potential of licensing the Beeb recordings. 'Voices in The Air' is the 19 tracks recorded for Peel by Siouxsie And The Banshees between 1977 and 1981. Then there is a double CD set of 21 songs from The House Of Love, recorded between 1988 and 1992,, which for some unexplainable reason excludes 7.45 a.m. from the 1989 session, maybe the tapes have been mislead? Maybe Guy Chadwick was not happy with recording? For me the least interesting of this batch, though I'm sure there will be people that disagree, comes from Gene. Spread over 2 CDs are the bands first 2 sessions from 1995 and 1995 along with 8 tracks recorded live at Londons Queen Elizabeth Hall, and 4 songs recorded live in the BBC studios for Peelie's birthday in 1999. From the five on offer this to me looks on paper to be the most interesting, the complete Peel Sessions as recorded by Shefield's finest outsiders made good, Pulp. With it's 29 tracks over 2 discs it contains everything they recorded for their four sessions between 1981 and 1995 with the added bonus of their first official live recording from the series of concerts recorded in London 1999, celebrating John Peels 40 years in Broadcasting. At a meager 12 tracks the PJ Harvey set is disappointing as it is far from being complete, still I guess this should keep the bootleggers in bushiness! The good new is that these are being marketed at what the industry calls mid price, so expect to pay around £9.00 in the UK for these CDs. I for one hope that they keep up with release of these often hard to find sessions.
Another well priced 2CD set is that from the Au Pairs entitled 'Stepping Out Of Line', grouping the bands two studio albums 'Playing With A Different Sex' and 'Sense And Sensuality' together on the same set along with loads of bonus tracks. This release from Castle from May this year was more than welcome as the albums, despite being considered as Post punk classics, had long been unavailable. Among the bonus material are the following three tracks as laid down by the band in the Maida Vale studio, October 1980.

1. 'Pretty Boys'
2. 'Ideal Woman'
3. 'Monogamy'

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Made In France

Ever since starting the blog back in February my friends here in France have been trying to persuade be to write in their native tongue, the problem is that the language of Moliere is far from easy and as the expression here goes I write like a Spanish cow! What I have decided to to is to post more French music, this decision has been also motivated in part by the recent increase in American and English readers. My intention is to post music from French artists that maybe old, new, famous, unknown, in French, in Arabic, or in English but what most of these artists will have in common is that the majority of my readers will not know them. I do urge you to to is give them a listen as for me this is one of the important roles that musical blogging plays: sharing and exposing new music. It is always possible that you will discover something that you like, should this be the case and you are tempted to buy one of their albums they can be found on the three main French on line stores, Alapage, Amazon, FNAC.

Stuck In The Sound
This Paris based four piece formed in 2002 and wasted no time in starting to play locally where they quickly made friends with an up to date indie sound that paid homage to their influences, R.E.M., Smashing Pumpkins and Pixies. They released an auto-produced album in 2005 that won them friends in the French media. They are back with a new album 'Never Mind The Living Dead' to be released 6 November from which 'Never On The Radio' is taken, I would suggest that they deserve a place on the airwaves with this nervous energetic three minutes of modern pop, as French magazine Les Inrockuptibles said of the album "electro-rock with melodies to take your breath away". The band will be playing at Manchester's In The City festival 31 October, so why not check them out if you're there. The bands My Space can be found here, where of course there are other songs you can listen to.

This four piece are themselves real pop fans who have managed to live their dream. In 2002 they released 'Allez' a first album than won over many people with it's melodies influenced from the other side of the Atlantic and it's hooks so typical of French music. A second album in 2004 'De Retour Dans Nos Criques' produced by Dave Fridmann who has also been responsible for albums from Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev, took them further along the same road. They have recently released their third album 'Melanger Les Couleurs' produced this time by Hip Hop producer Philippe Weiss the results are more than pleasing taking the big romantic sound of Coldplay and the play on words so typical of artists such as Miossec that makes this album a success, check out 'Je Reviens'. The band's web site is here.

Bikini Machine
My personal favorite from today's bunch is this band from Rennes in northern France that have managed to come up with a sound that is reminiscent of the 60's, not that surprising really considering their use of good old valve amps and a Farfissa, while managing to sound fresh and urgent, it's place is firmly in the 21st century. Check out 'La Pharmacie Anglaise' that can be found on their album 'Daily Music Cooking With Bikini Machine', this song has been on heavy rotation here since I discovered it a few days back and with good reason as it has shades of le grand Serge along with a hint of the Rolling Stones circa 'Sympathy For The Devil'. The song has had my feet tapping like mad no surprise really as apparently they are good on stage with a reputation for getting a crowd moving. The Bands My Space can be found here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


The Eighties

This is not my favorite decade in musical terms as my age dictates that this is the seventies and I must confess to having a soft spot for the nineties. The reason for this might be that it was a decade where I lived very much a nomadic existence, at the beginning of this period I was in London, followed by two years living in Northern Italy after which I returned to by hometown before living out the last years of the decade in Toulouse, France. Since then I have been resident in France moving from the Pink City, Toulouse is known as this because of the colour of the local bricks historically used for it's construction, to Montpellier and then to Nimes where I have been for the last 8 years. I can remember that I was in London in 1982 and had the privilege of watching a new music TV program that was to break the cast that had been used for all that went before it and was to set the standards for youth TV ever since. The program in question was the Tube and had two main presenters in Jools Holland, Squeeze's ivory tinkler and Paula Yates, who was then the wife of Bob Geldof. For those of you that have never seen the show, it was a 90 minute (?) live broadcast featuring a number of bands playing live in the studios that went out early Friday evening on channel 4. It was obvious that things were not to go smoothly, the two presenters were not the most stable of people, who can remember Jools Holland's live plug for the show during the kids cartoons when he invited the Groovie fuckers to join him later, this caused an outrage in much the same way as the notorious Sex Pistols TV adventure had done years earlier. The show could be very much a hit and miss affair successfully managing to mix different styles of music the same evening. They treated us to live appearances from aging punks: The Jam (their last ever TV appearance), The Stranglers, The Undertones, from up and coming synth pop bands: Soft Cell, Simple Minds, Heaven 17, from mainstream chart acts: Imagination, Gap Band, Paul Young and from genuine crossover stars: Eurythmics, Cutture Club and Madness. What these acts all had in common was that they made their way up to Newcastle to play a maximum set of 20 minutes before a live studio audience as the show was beamed out to the millions of us that watched in our living rooms before hurrying off to the pub or a Friday evening gig.
Late last year a DVD of highlights from the first series was released but before I could do my Amazon two click to place my order it was withdrawn, I can only guess that there were copyright problems. I was therefore more than happy to see that the 2 DVD set has recently resurfaced, this time round my fingers were quick off the mark. Since receiving it a few weeks back I have been working my way through it and I must say that it has certainly opened the floodgates to my memories from this period. Highlights include Twisted Sister covering the Stones 'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll' with Lemmy helping out on bass, Grandmaster Flash playing with their captive audience and enjoying every minute of it. A surprise was to re visit Paul Young, who by this stage had become very much a large star, though those vocal chords of his were still magic, also check out his backing singers they looked great! Before going solo Paul Young had been around for years and his previous band were a kind of sixties soul revival troupe that earned a good living on the college circuit, anyone that saw them with a few beers inside them were guaranteed a good evening! The band were called the Q Tips, and as far as I know they were never bothered by lawyers representing the product of the same name. They released one album at the end of the seventies, which was the period that I found my self working in a record shop and this platter was one of our favorites for Saturday's, when we couldn't play anything too risky unless it was a customer request, true looking back it is nothing exceptional though certainly pleasant enough on the ears as can be heard on 'Some Kind Of Wonderful' and 'SYSLJFM'. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Deptford City Five

One of the things that I love about the internet is that there is so much (useless?) information out there just waiting for someone like me to stumble upon it while researching my posts. This was how I came across the great Squeeze site Packet Of Three and was more than pleased to discover that someone has gone to the effort of listing all of the bands concerts, this helped me to find the date of when I saw the band (through the years I have lost all my old ticket stubs) as being either 16 or 17 March 1978 at London's Lyceum Ballroom. At the time I was just 17 and spending more and more of my time following up on what I had read about in NME and listened to with John Peel or Nicky Horne. When I saw the three band bill was going to be zig zagging its way across the British Isles for two months at the beginning of '78, I was as they say up for it. The headliners were Eddie And The Hot Rods who were at this point at the height of their popularity, 'Do Anything You Wanna Do' had been a massive hit the previous summer and the tour was to promote their second album 'Life On The Line'. Second place on the line up went to Radio Stars who were also popular at the time due to their explosive live shows and their recent UK hit 'Dirty Pictures'. The opening slot was occupied by the relatively unknown Squeeze. I already knew them as I was the proud owner of their vinyl debut the 'Packet of Three EP' that had been released on Deptford Fun City Records in July '77, the band had since signed to A&M and by the time the tour was to begin their first single for a major 'Take Me I'm Yours' was in the shops complete with it's picture sleeve boasting Arnold Schwarzenegger! The month of March saw the release of their self titled debut album, produced by a drug crazed John Cale who truth be told did not do justice to their compositions. I would be lying if I were to give you a detailed account of the gig, it was after all nearly 30 years ago, what I can remember is Andy Ellison, Radio Stars vocalist spending half of his bands set climbing up and down the P.A. stacks, rather like Iggy Pop and also that I was blown away by Squeeze, I'm sure that on that tour I was not the only friend that they made. The south London quintet were built around the songwriting partnership of Glen Tilbrook and Chris Difford, who for me are rather like a punk generation Lennon and McCartney but with their roots and influences firmly London based, maybe this local preferences was what stopped them from becoming really big as if we are to be honest they did deserve greater success.
Despite continuing well into the '90's it was obvious that the relationship between the two figureheads was at straining point and they finally called it a day, whether they can put behind them their differences remains to be seen. Both men have embarked on solo careers and quite justifiably their live sets are liberally sprinkled with old Squeeze favorites. Chris Difford's latest album 'South Eastside Story' is a live run through of the bands back catalog in acoustic mode recorded on home turf at the Albany Deptford, a venue that has been staging gigs for as long as I can remember. The renditions are pleasant though add little to the originals except in the case of his reworking of 'Take Me I'm Yours' which successfully manages to loose the originals wonderful teutonic stomp as he turns it into a delicate ballad complete with flute. The Squeeze versions of the songs can be found an the original albums or on one of the many compilations that grace your local record store.

1. Squeeze 'Take Me I'm Yours' originally released on 'Squeeze'
2. Chris Difford 'Take Me I'm Yours'
3. Squeeze 'Up The Junction' originally released on 'Eastside Story'
4. Chris Difford 'Up The Junction'

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Another One Bites The Dust !

I guess it had to happen, as the saying goes everything comes to an end as did the (in)famous CBGB: OMFUG club in New York Cities now fashionable Bowery close it's doors to the public for the very last time early last Monday morning. The importance of this small club should not be underestimated for without it and the NY scene that it nurtured in the first half of the seventies there would have been NO Sex Pistols, and regardless of what you think of them it was they they that kick started a movement that helped to wipe a very dirty slate clean and enabled us to start all over again. The club was founded by Hilly Kristal in 1973 with a rather long winded name in Country Blue Grass Blues: Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers, Kristal was convinced that country music was the next big thing. The original bands failed to draw enough people so when Television approached the venue they were booked, the first show did not go down well, though they were able to persuade Kristal to re-book them this time they had the nascent Ramones opening for them. Musically speaking this was alien to the clubs owner despite the fact that the audience were enjoying themselves and so thankfully he continued booking these bands. Patti Smith was the next person to tread the boards after having been recommended by Tom Verlaine. The Poet turned rocker was to pay a total of 56 shows during a seven week residency, it was at one of these that Clive Davis, then owner of Arista caught her act and wasted no time in signing her up as she stepped off of the stage. Since then everyone his brother and sister would appear to have played there and it really looked like nothing could stop the venue going on and on. Then late last year the news broke that there was a dispute between Hilly and the venues owners regarding the lease, this obviously meant money was involved. The hike in rent that was being demanded was unacceptable and despite a popular movement supporting the musical landmark nothing could be done, the result being last Sundays final Gig. I have read that there is going to be a new CBGBs in Las Vegas!!!!!!!!!!! Me neither I can't understand this, after all the club had become a symbol of the big apple and had long been associated with NYC bands. Who knows maybe they're heading to Vegas in an attempt to get Celine Dion to play?
The last concert was assured by one of New Yorks favorite daughters Patti Smith, who as already mentioned was also one of the first to play there. Breaking with Kristal's original rule that bands played their own material the set was heavy in cover versions paying tribute to the venues long history this included Televisions 'Marquee Moon' with Richard Lloyd helping out, Blondie's 'The Tide Is High', The Dead Boys 'Sonic Reducer' and a Ramones medley that if reports are to be believed almost took the roof off the club. Despite the downbeat feel for the evening, a recital of the names of dead punk rock musicians, Patti Smith was also enthusiastic and forward looking, as she pointed out the kids would find some other place to make their music and build their scene. I for one endorse her feelings, yes it's sad that a club closes and above all after such a long and productive life. I'm under no delusion despite last weeks celebration of 20 years of Le Rockstore I know full well that the chances it clocks up another 20 years are negligible. Raise your glasses to the future!
Today's soundtrack is one song a piece from the first three important artists that played CBGBs, of particular interest is 'Piss Factory' that was one side of Patti Smiths first 7" the other was her take on 'Hey Joe'. I used to have this single and if my memory serves me well it was on Sire records, a one off deal before Arista? The photo comes from the New York Times and was taken by Ruth Fremson, I couldn't be there I had another engagement, and depicts Smith arriving for this historic date.

1. Television 'See No Evil'
2. Ramones 'Blitzkrieg Bop'
3. Patti Smith 'Piss Factory'

Monday, October 16, 2006


Peel Sessions 25

Before we get down to today's Peel artist there are two other things I would like to mention. First up, sorry for the state of affairs at EZArchive, they are changing their system and for the last few weeks this has meant that things have been rather sluggish. To add to this I have just discovered that all files are to be transferred and or deleted at the end of October, which means the links will be down, so instead of posting I shall be spending some time putting up new links for my old posts. I just hope their new system is really worth all the hassle! Second, as promised Friday night the beer did flow and maybe just a little bit to freely, I guess this is very much a case of me showing my age! I was not to be the only one displaying their years as the gig was indeed very strange, true OTH made a lot of people very happy that night but the sound was to say the least rather strange and the individual members seemed to have problems getting into the swing of things, as a friend said to me after the gig it was a shame they didn't just play the encores! For me the evening's highlights were a) the excellent support band Servo, for whom we shall return another day. b) The sight of the three Rockstore bosses on stage providing backing vocals for OTH and a little bit later Fifi, who is well into his 50's though evidently still young at heart, stage diving hand in hand with Spi the OTH vocalist into the arms of the adoring audience, he did later confess that it was the first time for him! Still it was his birthday. c) Around 2 a.m. being jumped upon by a smiling Beubeu, OTH drummer, as he hugged me in the middle of the bar before soliciting my opinion. d) And of course there was the beer!

And now back to the BBC, today's band the Farm were long time Peel favorites having entered those hallowed studios on 6 occasions between 1983 and 1981. I think it would be fair to say that at least at the beginning part of the interest on Peels behalf was motivated by vocalist Peter Hootons passion for all things Liverpool FC, he even went as far as editing his own football fanzine The End. The band were formed in Liverpool in 1983 by youth worker Hooton who was looking for a way to voice his political concerns. Their left wing politics and horn driven sound led to them being dubbed the soul of socialism and lumped in the same bag as the Redskins. Maybe because of their openly political message they failed to find a niche for themselves with their first three singles and as such were going nowhere quickly. After dropping the horns and adopting a more eighties sound they scored a club hit with single number 4 'Body And Soul'. Realising that the immediate future was with beats they approached dance producer Terry Farley who produced their baggy take on the Monkey's 'Stepping Stone', this finally did the job and got them national airplay. The rest as they say is history, top ten singles, selling in excess of 500,000 copies of 'All Together Now', a first album that charted at number one, playing before 15,000 people for the last night of the Kop (Liverpool FC's legendary terrace). Success was to be short lived as maybe in the public's eye they were too closely associated with baggy/Madchester that was to die an early death, and their two following albums failed miserably in commercial terms after being dismantled by the critics.

1. 'No Mans Land' from the April 1983 session.
2. 'Little Old Wine Drinker Me' from the November 1985 session.
3. 'Stepping Stone (Ghost Dance Mix)' ok this ones not from a Peel session but I loved their version and have always a thing about baggy, the music not the trousers!

Friday, October 13, 2006


The Boys Are Back In Town

That's right, look who's just got back today Montpellier's original last gang in town OTH (On Tender Hooks), who played their official fare well gig at Le Rockstore 12 December 1991 and have buried their differences and reformed for one night only to celebrate the 20th birthday of the venue. The band are legendary for many things not the least of which is their fierce independent attitude that led to them leaving RCA records and forming their own outlet for music. Their records manage to stride than uneasy territory between real punk and old time rock. I can remember their last appearance as being hot sweaty and very intense, a lot of beer was downed that night! I'm expecting much the same tonight as again they will be performing before a sold out crowd in their home town's best hall.
Seeing as most of my readers won't know the band some music to help you familiarise yourselves 'La France Dort' from their 1974 album 'Reussite' and two songs including the title track from 1986's 'Sur Des Charbons Ardents', I have always had a soft spot for their reworking of Garry Glitter's 'Rock 'n' Roll' that they called 'Totem'.
May the party begin, and may the beer taps stay open all night long!

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Third World

I Must confess to being very much a product of '77 and as such reggae has eversince played a role in my life, only a few weeks back I scooped up 10 old rasta masterpieces while the price was good on Amazon. It therefore didn't take me long in 1993 to say yes when I was proposed a date on Third World's Committed tour, and so it was that the band stopped off at 20 rue de Verdun in April that year. In France when we sign the contract we also advance 50% of the agreed sum, the balance of which is usually paid by cheque to the bands road manager after the gig, occasionally a band will request part of the balance to be paid in local currency. By the time I promoted Third World I was well used to this arrangement. Imagine my surprise when the day before the concert their French agency called to let me know that the band were insisting on being paid in US$ before the gig or they would not play. Now I'm not going to divulge the bands fee but it was obviously a sizeable sum which proved difficult to find in Montpellier in at such short notice. After going to our bank we were informed that such a sum could only be obtained from the Banque de France if required the following day. We did not manage to get our hands on the dollars before the end of the afternoon on the day of the gig. I must say I felt rather like a gangster walking around town with all of those green backs in my brief case. The band were happy and the gig went ahead and every one enjoyed themselves. For catering the band had chosen a buy out arrangement whereby we gave them a fixed sum for each person instead of providing a meal. Just before the band went on their road manager asked me if I could book them into a good Chinese restaurant for after the performance. This was no easy task as a) they would be eating late and b) they were numerous. As already mentioned the gig went well and the band were in high spirits and invited the Luna Tick team along to the restaurant with them. We enjoyed a good meal, despite spending a long period translating the menu for each member, apparently Rasta's don't eat crab! The band proved to be very good company despite being maybe a little too much on the sexist side, and recounted many an amusing anecdote. After the meal the road manager asked me to help him with paying the bill, and yes he wanted to pay in US dollars, eventually this was accepted though the band did loose out! I'm sure there is a lesson to be learnt from this story.

Today's music is two tracks taking from Third World's classic 1977 album '96° In The Shade'.

1. '1865 (96° In The Shade)'
2. 'Third World Man'

Wednesday, October 11, 2006



There are some gigs that just don't go right, maybe the the roadie God is in a bad mood, maybe someone's got their guitar strings crossed, whatever when things go wrong it's bad news. On paper everything looks fine and you think you're in for a good night, this was very much the case for Sugar's eagerly anticipated passage at Le Rockstore in June 1993. This was the period that their 'Beaster' album had been released, and having long been a Husker Du fan I had closely followed Bob Mould's solo career and was more than impressed with his new band Sugar. Once again I found myself working the gig but this time as a roadie. We thought we were in for a good evening, advanced sales were good, there was a real buzz surrounding the gig and summer was on it's way, little were we to know. The stage set up was impressive, rarely did one see so much amplification for a meager three piece, it looked as if my dream was to come true and that Sugar would be taking us to places, sonically speaking, that other bands could only dream of. And this was to be the case for less than 40 minutes when the band were louder than Spinal Tap could ever wish to be be while retaining a sense of melody that was straight out of the Beatles school. Then for no real apparent reason Bob Mould stormed off the stage, to be followed by the other two members leading a direct line to their dressing rooms where they promptly slammed the door shut and that was the last we saw of them for two hours! Apparently vibes between the individual members were none to good and Mould being the perfectionist was none to pleased with his fellow band members that night. I latter heard that blows were exchanged in the dressing rooms along with lets just say very strong words. This was not my problem at the time, as downstairs in the hall the crowd were not pleased and did not understand why things had ended so abruptly. The band's road manager wasted little time in communicating to us that the gig was over, and so the house lights went up, and music was relayed over the PA. Then their roadmanager asked us to start unwiring the stage mikes, this was not a good idea? As we started this task the crowd turned ugly and so it was that we worked under a hail of spit, plastic glasses and insults. Our task finished we retired from the stage to find refuge at the bar while we waited for further orders. These were to arrive a little bit latter when we were informed that Sugar had reformed and our services were required to mike up the stage. And so two hours after quitting the stage the band treated those remaining members of the audience to a scorching encore, I guess it was a bit like sex after an argument! In conclusion I could say that what should have been a sweet evening turned out to be a bitter pill to swallow.
Sugar's reputation was built on their excellent records and their live performances, today's music is all live and can be found on their rarities compilation 'Besides' and as you can guess all of the tracks had previously seen the light of day on singles.
1. 'Where Diamonds Are Halos' originally an extra track on 'A Good Idea' 12" single.
2. 'JC Auto' originally B side to 'Tilted' 7" single.
3. 'Explode And Make Up' originally an extra track on 'Gee Angel' 12" single.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Divine Heaven?

Through the 6 years that I was active in the gig promotion business there was much that gave me pleasure as well as some rather more painful moments. I personally was more than satisfied when I saw and talked to the happy members of the public as they left the hall and when I chatted with the band members as they were on their come down after their on stage adrenalin high. Though maybe the biggest pleasure I received was discovering new artists that were in the process of defining themselves. Way back in 1993 I was proposed a bill with three bands, Moose, Sidi Boo Said and Divine Comedy an interesting line up, a band that was the critics choice but not that good at selling records, a band seemed to be in NME every week at the time and a band (?) that was then unknown but was to go on to become the largest out of the three. The date was set for the tail end of November and we had a good crowd in for the gig and it was Neil Hannon who at this stage was performing alone under the name of the Divine Comedy that stole the show as indeed he was on every date on the tour. He was a revelation and a welcome breath of fresh air. Appearing alone on the stage with his acoustic guitar, his chair, His bottle of wine, his suit, his humour, his amazing voice and those songs of his that were so different to what we were used to. I know that I was not the the only person to be so impressed with this charming diminutive Irish minstrel and his wares.
We were not to wait long for a return visit from Neil, only this time he came in the company of two friends, a violinist and a cellist in May 1994. On this occasion I had the fortune to promote three gigs Montpellier May 15, Nice May 16 and Marseille May 17, my involvement also meant that I had the luck to spend two days traveling the South of France in their tour bus, well an old Dodge van actually, so even if their line up was none to rock and roll their traveling arrangements certainly were, I can remember the van smelling none to well. One would have thought that such sedate music would attract a like minded audience, but this was not to be the case. At Le Rockstore we had a drunken fool jump up on stage and dance around behind the seated Neil who was not amused. This meant that for the following gigs on the tour front of house security was required to stop stage divers! The bonus on this tour was the presence of the sadly missed Epic Soundtracks as opening act, someone else that I'm very pleased to have had the chance to see.
My last experience promoting the Divine Comedy was for the tour that promoted 1996's 'Casanova' by this stage not only was Neil a star in France but also in the UK. The consequence of this was a big tour bus, professional roadies, a full band, 4 star hotels and maybe the most difficult to believe loads of young women fans who were on the verge of hysteria upon sighting their idol. Personally I could not wish success to a nicer man who I had always witnessed putting on a good show and was forever the gentleman and considerate of his audience and fans.
Neil has since moved on and left Setanta Records signing to Paraphone in 1999 with whom he released his 9th album 'Victory For The Comic Muse' earlier this year. Despite the evident line up changes Neil is still using the Divine Comedy tag and is currently touring Europe, unfortunately no date for Montpellier, do go and see him if you can, you won't be disappointed!
What for me is almost a scandal of criminal proportions is that Neil's Setanta years output is no longer available, except in download format on the bands site or by searching second hand sites or shops. It for this reason I feel justified in offering one song from each of his first five albums, put your headphones on lie back and enjoy!

1. 'Your Daddy's Car' from Liberation
2. 'Tonight We Fly' from Promenade
3. 'Becoming More Like Alfie' from Casanova
4. 'If' from A Short Song About Love
5. 'National Express' from Fin De Siecle

Monday, October 09, 2006


Peel Sessions 24

First up, a word about last Friday's gig. Excellent! I fully realise that 99.89% do not know and probably don't care who Otis Wood are, but hell it's my blog......... It was a true pleasure to see Florian, Ludovic and Philippe together on stage for one last time, and complemented by a second guitarist to beef up the sound and leave Florian to concentrate on his vocal duties. The first 2 numbers were maybe just a little bit stiff but they wasted no time in responding to the hot reception from the full house and in so doing succeeding in raising the temperature even higher. Don't ask me how long they played for as I don't count time when I am enjoying myself this much. I spoke to Ludovic earlier today and was pleased to hear that the show was recorded, and so with a little luck and effort on my part we will have one or two tracks up here in a week or so! As for Rinocerose, no surprise with the quality of their performance, I was very happy to see that it was a real show that included a guest vocalist Mark Gardener who many of you will remember as having been the vocalist from Ride.
Keeping the theme of Le Rockstore's 20 birthday going with the Peel Sessions presents me with no difficulty at all, as many artists that graced the BBC studios have also visited 20 rue de Verdun ; Add N To (X), Atari Teenage Riot, Auteurs, Bluetones, Boo Radleys, Captain Sensible, Cat Power, Clotaire K, Cop Shoot Cop, Dirtbombs, Dream City Filmclub, Frank Black, Gallon Drunk, Gong, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Hole, I Am Kloot, Inspiral Carpets, Jesus & Mary Chain, Kills, Laika, Lemonheads, Les Thugs, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Magma, Manic Street Preachers, Menswear, Meteors, Moose, Motorhead, Napalm Death, Natacha Atlas, New Fast Automatic Daffodils, Palace Music, PJ Harvey, Prefab Sprout, Pulp, Quasi, Ride, Royal Trux, Sebadoh, Senser, Sleeper, Sloy, Smog, Steel Pulse, Stereolab, Stranglers, Th' Faith Healers, Thee Hypnotics, Tortoise, Ukrainians, Voodoo Queens, Wedding Present and Yo La Tengo. This list might contain some mistakes or have some, unintentional exclusions, though what it does do is pay testament to the varied taste and respect for music, values shared by Peel and Le Rockstore.
As I have already mentioned the lions share of the nineties were spent in Montpellier and more exactly at Le Rockstore, now the exact year I cannot remember but it must have been the earlier part of the decade that someone organised a death metal/ thrash metal/ speed metal/ grindcore festival, on of all days a Sunday and in an ex church! I cannot remember for the life of me, how many band were playing but I do remember that the gig started early afternoon and that the headliners were Napalm Death. I know that in the past I have been none to kind to Napalm Death. Having been young once myself I know full well the value uf shock and the pleasure of pushing boundaries. This style of music was hardly my cup of tea, at this period I was well into my thirties, though always having been keen to try out new styles I had purchased the Peel Sessions compilation Hardcore holocaust but it had left me cold. Fifi needed someone to work the bar during the gig and so it was that I was present for the whole gig. What did impress me about the different performances was the energy level and the communion between the bands and their audience who I might mention were very young, I must have served 10 glasses of water for each glass of beer! Napalm Death's very first Peel session dated from 13 September 1988 and featured 12 songs in less than 6 minutes, here for your pleasure are six of them, in two files 'The Kill/Prison Without Walls/Dead Part 1' and 'Deceiver/Lucid Fairytale/In Extremis' my original copy of the Peel Sessions album was on vinyl and has long since disappeared from my collection, the files come courtesy of the blog Orang Aural. Napalm Death's original drummer and founding member Mick Harris would appear to be a keen surfer and has visited Sound of the Suburbs on a number of occasions and has been polite enough to leave comments, I know because he took light humoured offence to my earlier comments on the band, I hope this makes up for it, Mick! I don't think you were still with Napalm Death when they played Montpellier but I'm sure you would have loved the gig.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Luna Tick - The Beginning

At the beginning there were three of us, Laurence, my long suffering partner, Fargy, a colleague from Le Rockstore and myself who with the complicity and loads of support from Fifi and Steph registered the name Luna Tick and headed feet first into the world of concert promotion. Our very first event was 25 November 1992 with New Fast Automatic Daffodils, the evening was a relative success with both the audience who were modest in terms of numbers and the excellent band both happy with the evening, we too were pleased despite our financial losses, this was to be the first in a long series! There was nothing stopping us and our second event was already lined up for 16 December with Inspiral Carpets. We thought this was it, the big time for us, what we were quickly to learn is that there is one hell of a difference between what a London based NME reading punter and the youth of a medium/large French provincial town chooses to attend. Again a good time was had by the 450 people in attendance.
The band had arrived in Montpellier the night before as it was a day off for them, being very much party minded creatures ourselves we agreed to show them around our fair town the night before, this of course was restricted to drinking holes. I don't think all of the band were present though there road crew were, please don't ask as I really don't know whether Noel Gallagher was still working with them or not or if he'd buggered off to form Oasis, what I do remember is that they had a charming lady as their road manager, whose name escapes me but I do recall that she was at the time Peter Hook's girlfriend, and she delighted with many hilarious stories concerning Hooky and his chums.
today's music comes from the Inspiral Carpets with one song from their debut album 'Life' that I seem to remember as having been rather popular 'She Comes In The Fall', and one of my favorite tracks from their second album 'Revenge Of The Goldfish' that they were touring in 1992 entitled 'Dragging Me Down'.
today's post is another in our series celebrating the 20th birthday of Le Rockstore and it is tonight that I am going to see Rinocerose supported by the reformed Otis Wood both of whom have been subject to posts in the past. As local promoter you often find yourself with a headliner that is touring without an opening act, as was the case that night with Inspiral Carpets, and so it was the first time that worked with Otis Wood, Montpellier's finest power pop trio to date that were to assume the opening spot that night. Both of today's photos are taken from that gig, and were taken by local photographer Eric Catarina for whom I thank. The Photo at the top of the page is of Carpets vocalist Tom Hingley, and the one at the bottom is of Otis Wood vocalist guitarist Florian Brinker. Note how both singers were wearing ace shirts that night!

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Running With Lemmy

Any hall worth the price of entry will boast a wide range of musical styles within it's walls. Le Rockstore is no exception to this rule I have seen indie pop, reggae, acid jazz, blues, country, jazz, classical, house, techno, soul, blue grass, punk new wave, fusion, hard rock, heavy metal ........... the list is endless. During the period that I was promoting gigs, I would often work for other promoters either as a roadie or as was more often the case as a runner, for those of you that don't know what this means basically is that you double as chauffeur and errand boy. This role I fulfilled for a number of different bands one of the most memorable was when Motorhead graced Le Rockstore, 29 January 1997. As a youngster I had had the good luck to catch the classic line up at a smallish London venue, the Roundhouse, in 1978 I think, and I seem to remember having had a good time. To be honest I considered at the time that Motorhead were at least 15 years past their prime, despite this I was looking forward to my days work after all Lemmy is one of the few true rock legends that would appear to stay true to his roots. I really can't remember how the day went so it must of been rather routine excepting for one incident. The band's roadcrew and band members apart from Lemmy were all at the hall during the afternoon. Lemmy I believe was sleeping something or the other off on his tour bus which for some unexplainable reason had parked up on the edge of town. What was required of me was to go and collect the bass playing monster at a given time and fetch him back to the hall. When I got to his tour bus, I knocked on the door and waited, eventually a long haired hatted man opened the door. 'Hi Lemmy' I said 'I'm Mike your runner are you ready to go', he asked me to wait in the car while he got his gear together. Now I must say my car was no big deal at the time I had an aging Citroen AX, that as often as not was far from being clean. After a few minutes Lemmy joint me in the car, after a few seconds of silence he posed the question 'Do you mind If I smoke', my reply was immediate 'Of course you can, I'm hardly going to say no to Lemmy, am I'. At which he laughed and offered me a Marlboro, red of course! And so it was that I passed a pleasant 30 minutes with Lemmy in my car, chatting away to him about everything and anything.
As for the gig, well it was 100% Motorhead, After almost 40 years in the business I must say that the man is a true professional and knows how to please his public and as expected all the old favorites were given a run through. The last I saw of Lemmy before he boarded his tourbus was of him very angry and asking if anyone had seen his French booking agent, who he wanted to do nasty thing to, because the money was slow in coming, not enough or something like that. As they say it's only Rock 'n' Roll!
I am fully aware that Motorhead have recently released a new album 'Kiss Of Death' which has received mixed reviews and so I guess that means it's one for the diehards. Our music for today comes from the classic period first up the song that was originally performed with Hawkwind and that provided the band with their name and their debut single 'Motorhead' and secondly if Lemmy has written one really classic song, indeed one that has been widely covered it is 'Ace Of Spades'. A song that many a young lad has stood in front of his bedroom mirror with a tennis racquet in his hands as he thrashes hell out of it, while he gets lost in the song's 2 minutes 50 seconds of pure adrenalin. To be played loud ! With or without tennis racquet !

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


So Fucking Special

Montpellier is a large attractive town situated just a few miles from the coast and has an important community of students, it is maybe for this reason that the town has numerous venues to satisfy its healthy appetite for night life. There is, for example the 6000 seater indoor stadium Le Zenith that plays host to the big bands, though there is one venue that provides Le Rockstore with some unhealthy competition (the venue is heavily subsidised by different public bodies) the slightly smaller Salle Victoire II. Not really a venue with a lot of character as it is situated miles from the town centre, handy for the motorway, it resembles a shoe box and the last time I was there I can remember it having some of the worst acoustics my ears have even been punished with.
I had started promoting gigs at the tail end of 1992 having come up with the pun heavy name of Luna Tick as our identity. I worked closely with a French agency that also programmed the bands for the Black Sessions as hosted by French DJ Bernard Lenoir. It was through them that I was first proposed an up and coming band that heralded from the town of Oxford. Today everyone and their mother knows Radiohead but back then they had yet to break big time. If my memory serves me well the gig was arranged at very short notice with the date set for 17 June 1993. Before we had time to put the tickets on sale we heard the bad news that Salle Victoire had programmed Belly for the same night, these things happen! What did throw us a little bit was when we heard days latter that they were offering Belly as free gig. Quick negociations meant that we found ourselves with partners to help us with our financial loss and so were now in a position to have a free entrance for Radiohead. Along with another DJ at Radio Alligator I recorded a jingle for the show using 'Creep' the obvious song from their debut album 'Pablo Honey'. When the big day came we really did not know how many people to expect, there were no re sales to guide us and with the two gigs touching the same audience, it was in God's hands and let's just say that this once he was on our side! During the course of the afternoon we heard that Belly had been cancelled (what a shame), apparently the reason given was that the band considered the drive to Montpellier to be too long! Obviously for us it was to late to change our plans and so the gig went ahead as planned. When I talked to Fifi the other day day and asked him about the concerts that left the biggest impression on him this gig was mentioned, as he stated that at the time 'Creep' was nothing more than a minor indie hit but the site and sound of the 1000 capacity crowd singing along with it was something to be seen, it was obvious that Radiohead were going to go on to greater things. I have since seen them on three other occasions, 19 November 1993 opening for James in Marseille, a return visit to the Rockstore 20 November 1995 and 13 June 2000 in an open air Roman theatre in Arles, though it was that first contact at Le Rockstore that made me realise they were so fucking special !
I guess there is not much in the way of rare Radiohead material what with the way everything they do seems to find its way onto the web almost quicker than it does onto tape. Two songs for you today that were recorded live for an early Black Session in the studios of Radio France in front of a live audience the already mentioned 'Creep' anyone know the last time they played this live? And another song from their debut album 'Ripcord'.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


20 Years Old Today

Everyone has their favorite concert hall or club, mine is situated in the South of France in the Town of Montpellier. My preference for this hall has two main reasons the first is that it is truly a great venue with lots of character and a long and varied history. The second is that by virtue of the fact that I worked there in different roles, it is between these walls that I have participated in more gigs than at any other venue, at a certain period I was averaging 6 gigs a week! And the name Le Rockstore, maybe you have heard of it maybe you have been there and it's not impossible that some of you have played there. It is situated next to the town's railway station and just a stones throw away from the main square, place de la Comedie at 20 rue de Verdun, you cannot miss it with the rear of a red Cadillac protruding from it's facade onto the bustling street.
The reason for today's post and those that will follow until 13 October is that Le Rockstore celebrates it's 20th birthday this year. There is a little argument over the exact date some say it was 2 October and others say it was the 4th, but what is important is that at the beginning of that month 1986 Level 42 were the first band to play this new venue. When I say new I mean new in name and more importantly under new direction of a team of people that love and understand music, Philippe Winling otherwise known as Fifi is the sole survivor from this period.
The origins of the building are a lot older, the oldest part dates from 12th century when it housed a monastery, through time the use changed slightly and by the 18th century, from which the facade dates, the building was a church. Interesting fact Napoleons father was buried here, though of course his remains have long since been relocated. The beginning of the 20th century saw the building housing a garage before being turned into a cinema. In 1978 under new direction it became the Grand Odeon, and was a discotheque that also doubled as a concert hall, this period saw acts such as The Tubes, Simple Minds, INXS and The B52s play there. Since it's transformation in 1986 Le Rockstore has become a pivotal part of Montpellier nightlife with it's night club open until the very early hours 7 days a week. These last 20 years have seen more than 3000 different concerts and probably more that the double that number in terms of bands that have trod it's hallowed stage. I am not going to run through a list of artists that have played there what I will say is that for this 1000 capacity hall some of the worlds best known and loved bands have played there as well as the numerous local bands that have been given a helping hand with a gig there. To celebrate the venue are organising two special week-ends the first of which is Friday 6 October when top local band Rinocerose supported by a reformed Otis Wood play there. The Following week end sees local legends OTH reforming for one night only, tickets for these events have been distributed free, for OTH you are already too late, they all went within an hour.
A little bit of music might just be in order, in 1992 John Campbell was a rising star who was tipped to take over from where Stevie Ray Vaughan had left off breaching the gap between blues and rock and so taking his music to a larger audience. We had the chance to witness his skills at Le Rockstore that year as he won over many friends with his powerful voice, fiery guitar playing and solid songs. Unfortunately he was not to fulfill this promise as by June the following year he was victim of a heart attack while sleeping. 'Wild Streak' and 'Devil In The Closet' are both taken from his second Elektra album 'Howling' Mercy'.
For the next 10 days we will be taking a trip down memories lane with stories from Le Rockstores colorful past. You have been warned!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?