Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Yesterdays Forgotten Heros pt.1

How long have you been at it? I'm talking about a right click on the mouse and saving as, probably better known as mp3 downloading. I've been happily clicking away for eight years, I started in the 1999. I can remember that at this period I was not listening to too much music as after my years of working in radio and promoting, lets just say that I had had to much of a good thing and my ears and brain were seriously suffering from musical overdose. Part of my job as at the radio was listening to the new releases as sent in by the record companies, and for the concert hall we received a very large number of demo tapes, and I did listen to each and every one of them even if for many of them it was a quick listen. Add to this my 15 hours of weekly airtime and not forgetting that I sometimes liked to take something out of it's sleeve just for the pleasure of listening to it, I really was at saturation point and could take no more! So after a year or two of let's say radio silence, I started to get pleasure from from my records again and as luck would have it this corresponded roughly with the beginning of the mp3 revolution. I can remember my first PC, bought the same year boasted a mighty 4 giga of hard drive, though this was enough to start off, remember that at this period 128kbps was optimum quality! Despite the pioneer nature of my activities I was never to follow that murky path of p2p file sharing as I do firmly believe that an artist deserves to be rewarded for his work, though the odd track here or there was ok after all it was publicity, wasn't it. Back then things were not as organised as they are today, if you had said music blog to someone the reply would undoubtedly have been "what!"
So too the real purpose of today's post, a little bit like that time old favorite question of the music magazines, what was the first record you bought, well I'm asking what was the first track that you downloaded? Me I can remember the first three records that bought, though I'm not too sure about the order, as being 'Razzamataz' by Nazareth, 'Band On the Run' by Wings and '24 Carat Purple' by Deep Purple, I guess this says a lot about me. Well in much the same way I can remember the excitement of those first downloads, sitting there watching the percentage slowly rise and the file to be complete before finally listening to the song, as often as not the music was not that good but what the hell, this was a great way of discovering new music and I would say that it opened many new musical avenues for me, particularly concerning small artists from exotic far away places such as America! In much the same way that those first first records still mean a lot to me, so do those very first mp3 downloads that I have still have floating around somewhere on one of my hard drives and stocked on various back up CDs. I will not pretend that it was earth shattering music and no none of these bands went on to conquer the world but it was fun. I think the very first song that I downloaded came from the newly created People Sound Com, and was probably on their front page a lively piece of groove pop as only the Brits can do called 'Knock Yourself Out' by Ink. Another early delight included Big Boss Sausage, great name, with 'Heaters', this band were well enough known in their native America to merit an entry in the AMG guide. At this period I used to download and ask questions latter, maybe not the best of practices as I was to latter discover, finding myself with too many files that were not tagged or not well tagged, this means when you get round to listen to them, you find the song great but have no idea at all who it was by. This is the case with today's last track a great country/rap take on the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic that I have called 'Sweet Home California', anyone know the bands name?
The quality of these files may not be the best, but who complains when listening to their grandfathers old 78s! How times change.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007



Looks like Sound Of The Suburbs has made it to that all important first birthday. 201 posts and over 31,000 hits later I've still got the energy and enthusiasm to continue sharing my thoughts and various musical bits and pieces with those of you that care to stop by. It must be said that probably my biggest enemy is lack of time and of course the boring fact that where I live the only possibility I have is of a 56k dial up Internet connection and believe me up loading those files often takes one hell of a long time!
So who shares their birthday with Sound of The Suburbs? Elizabeth Taylor, I must say I've always fancied the thought of a pint with Richard Burton. Joanne Woodward who of course if not famous herself would be by association with her marriage to Paul Newman. Laurence Durrell, they forced me to read 'My Family And Other Animals' at school, and must admit it's not such a bad read. John Steinbeck, author of one of American literature's classics 'Of Mice And Men'. Nancy Spungen, RIP, punk groupie that helped fetch the Pistols down. Steve Harley, ex journalist and Bob Dylan fan that made some people smile with his Dylan impersonations and even managed to make a career out of it.
Every birthday needs music to help along the celebrations, and so I've chosen three topical songs. From 1980 and Altered Images (anyone remember the film of the same name?), the 12" remix version of 'Happy Birthday', for those of you too young to have been around at the time the 12" single was the latest marketing gimmick and for better or as the case often was worse everyone had their remixes. 'Birthday Blues' sums up how we feel depending on our age, I can remember hitting thirty was for me a big bummer that I took a long time coming to terms with, forty was OK though I must admit dreading the thought of fifty probably the symbolism. The song is taken from Wreckless Eric's great 1991 album 'The Donovan Of Trash', good news for fans of Wreckless and good music his classic third album from 1979 'Big Smash' is at long last about to be released on CD, complete with it's original bonus compilation and three live tracks recorded in Australia, get it here. Last track is from The Sugarcubes and is the demo version of 'Birthday' sung in their Native tongue. I must say that this song and the album from which it was taken took me by surprise in 1988 with it's charming and powerfully naive sounding pop gems , I was lucky enough to catch the band the following year in Toulouse, which was a great gig, and cemented my lasting admiration for pop's number one pixie Bjork. I read good reports about their recent concert in their home town, I just hope they have the good sense to leave it as a one off.
Year two starts tomorrow, maybe Sound Of The Suburbs will start walking!

Monday, February 26, 2007


Peel Sessions 42

Well First up I must say it's nice to be back to blogging even if this does have it's down side such as being woken up at 6 a.m. this morning and back to the wonderful world of work! And so without beating about the bush let's get straight down to business, today's chosen session tracks come from the Australian band that are all the proof you will ever need that class A drugs, old blues 78's, your brother's Captain Beefheart records, winklepickers, black suits and a good old Aussie upbringing makes for a marriage in musical heaven. There can be no hiding the identity of the band as it is indeed Nick Cave's musical beast the Birthday Party, rumour has it they were actually named after the Harold Pinter play of the same name. Saint Nick as we call him here in down town Nimes has long been a household favorite, there's nothing like watching my other half going around her household chores while both of us are singing along with 'The Weeping Song', he was also a big favorite with our record spinning hero maybe due to the Beefheart influence? The Birthday Party recorded four sessions during their all to short life time, 'Release The Bats', which some have unfairly stated was responsible for kick starting Goth (not true), and '(Sometimes) Pleasure Heads Must Burn' are both taken from April 1981's second set and 'Bully Bones' from December the same year. Since their split in 1983, Nick backed by his ever faithful Bad Seeds have got about as near as possible to world domination while staying faithful to themselves, he is the artist that merits the tag of rock crooner. It is a regrettable fact that I have never actually seen the man live though I was close to doing so on several occasions, one of which was one of his passages in Marseille during the 90's. At the time I was still active as a promoter and was invited the gig by a fellow promoter who was later to tell me about the bands rider. I cannot vouch for this being true but it is a nice story anyway. The days of bands exaggerating in terms of the back stage desires were long over by this period and as such their riders tended to be reasonable, negotiable or forgettable. The promoter was surprised to see that a large amount of champagne was required, even here in in France this is an expensive drink, eventually the promoter bowed down to the bands request. After what was apparently a great gig the band invited the fans that had not disappeared backstage, and only then was the sound of champagne corks to be heard popping. This was if the road manager was to be believed the purpose behind the request. Great chap!
Now rapidly approaching 50 it is interesting to note that Nick Caves new side project Grinderman is a return to his garage roots after the years of refining his sound, their first single 'No Pussy Blues' was released last week though with such a title I doubt that it's getting much daytime airplay, the album is due next month.
Cave fans that do not already know Nick Cave Online should visit the site as their are numerous live MP3s of reasonable quality available for download that is if you are brave enough to sign up.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Holiday Time Again !

It is true that I am rather privileged in terms of vacations, proof of which tomorrow straight from work I'll be loading the car up and we'll be off looking for snow at Supper Besse in the Massif Central. This does of course mean that there will be radio silence on the blog front until February 25 when I hope to be back with my batteries fully charged and my fingers aching to go. Until then I'll leave you with three cover versions of a long time favorite song of mine, 'The Boys are Back In Town' by Thin Lizzy. I would like to add that the links on your left come highly recommended so if you have the time do give them a try.
Version number 1 comes from the Cardigans who took the world by storm in the 90's with their sublime single 'Love Fool'. I have always had a soft spot for them and love their lounge music takes on old Black Sabbath songs, 'Iron Man' is to be both heard and seen to be believed. Their version of this Phil Lynot song is in much the same vein and can be found on the 1988 B side and rarities compilation 'The Other Side Of The Moon'. Cover number two is also a laid back take on the track from American cult band the Mountain Goats and was recorded for Dutch radio station VPRO. Number three dates from 1999 when it was released a single for the Happy Mondays come back Tour only for them to disappear again before getting back together yet another time last year, there is a new album recorded and ready waiting for the right label.
See you soon!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Made In France

I arrived in France at the tail end of the decade that started so well with punk's productive fall out only to finish with that awful sound of syndrums and other technology that should be banned by the UN. Of course I'm talking about the eighties. My chosen town for the next two years was Toulouse, it was there that I made my first tentative steps in the language of Moliere, it was also there that I started to accustom myself to that strange beast, French rock. I soon stumbled upon an independent local rock station, Radio FMR, that celebrated it's first 25 years last November. The station was and indeed still is a loose collective with the kind of programming that would put your local indie store to shame. At this period the station was based in an old factory and put the space to good use with a bar on the ground floor where I spent some pleasant evenings, but it was the first floor that was of real interest as they had turned it into a small concert hall where I was lucky enough to catch Mega City Four and the New Christs amongst others. It was also there that I was to discover one of the periods best French bands, Les Thugs.

Some what interestingly there is no date on the ticket but I think the event took place in 1989, It was a mini festival featuring four bands from one of France's leading independent labels, Gougnaf, I think the four bands were new to me at the time, but a great time was had by both me and my girlfriend a the gathered masses. Les Rats were a rather straight forward punk band as were Les Sherrifs, as for Parabellum they were more in the NY Dolls / Johnny Thunders mould. The band that literally blew me away was the least visual of the four but did they make some beautiful punk inspired pop / rock. I would break their career into two periods, the eighties when their efforts were on the home and European markets, and the Nineties when world domination was their target thanks to their association with Sub Pop and Alternative Tentacles.
I've chosen four songs from that early period to illustrate why they were so good, I will follow this up sooner or later with another post concerning the nineties. 'Bulgarian Blues' where the vocals were pushed more up front over an incendiary guitar riff, just in case you didn't realise that these boys from Anger were angry and had strong political thoughts that were not to be ignored. is taken from their 1987 mini album 'Electric Troubles' and was the first time they recorded outside France. The song is a fine example of their pounding rhythm, tightly controlled mesmerising guitars, laid back vocals by this I mean down in the mix and their trade mark of church like backing vocals provided by drummer Christophe, who wasted no time with words as his 'aahs' were more than sufficient to fill out the sound. The following year saw the release of the single 'Dirty White Race''I Need You' pays tribute in both subject matter and musical style to the Buzzcocks who were a big influence on the band. 1989's 'Still Hungry / Still Angry' was recorded in London with Ian Burgess producing, and was described in Sounds as being "genuinely unique". It has been difficult for me to chose a track from this album, so I employed the pull one out of the sack method and came up with 'Your Kind Of Freedom', the albums opening cut.
'Electric Troubles', 'Dirty White Race' and 'Sill Hungry / Still Angry' have been compiled together on CD going under the name of 'Still Hangry', a little bit of French word play in the title, and for once I'm pleased to be able to say that such an essential record is still readily available.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Another Third Of The Crucial Three

Following on nicely from yesterday's post with long time favorite of mine Julian Cope who latest recording venture is a three piece going under the name of Brain Donor. A wonderful name for a band that makes me think of the classic Mel Brook's film Young Frankenstein, if you don't know why, well shame on you! The band have been around since the beginning of the century playing some fine garage rock. The end of last year saw the release of their fourth album 'Drain'd Boner', it's five tracks clocking in around the forty minute mark has brought the memories of vinyl albums rushing back. In the band's own words the album is "munting sub-humanoid No Wave from the bowels of the Goddess Hell", and no, I don't quite understand what Cope means, he has after all long had the reputation of being a little bit eccentric, but the music is fine by my ears. The song that won't leave my head at the moment is 'Where Do We Take U' which is a very catchy song reminiscent of early Public Image with it's mocking vocal tones. It really wouldn't be fair to put up two songs as this would be almost half of the record, and it is new, and don't forget the point is a little taster and if you like it enough well two or three clicks here and a week or so later you'll find it waiting for you in your letter box.
Bonus track comes from Julian's aptly named 1987 album 'Saint Julian' which was a welcome return to amphetamine fueled garage pop all played at a break neck pace and with great hooks thrown in for good measure. 'Spacehopper' despite the throw away nature of the song was always great to listen to and real live stormer, now the memories of Toulouse 11th November 1988 are flooding back. It was only recently that I discovered that the track actually dates from the days of the Crucial Three and if rumour is to be believed Ian McCulloch co-penned the song, as he did with 'Robert Mitchum' that was to feature on Cope's 1990 release 'Skellington'.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Peel Sessions 41

Pete Wylie has what is both a good and honest title for his web page : part time rock star, full time legend!
The legendary part dates from the late '70's when along with Julian Cope and Ian McCullough they were collectively known as the Crucial Three, another true garage band that never quite made it passed rehearsal stage. Pop star, yes back in the '80's under one of his many Wha pseudonyms he was a regular in the single charts scoring his biggest hit in 1982 with "Story Of The Blues" that peaked at a respectable number 3.
Their seemed to be a complicity between Peel and Wylie, that was probably based on their mutual love of music and Liverpool F.C., both were natives of the city, and not their personalities that were radically different Peel being more quiet and retiring while Wylie reputation as a motormouth probably did his career more harm than good in the long run. Wylie's site contains the following tribute to Peel that I found quite touching:

"john peel changed my life.
the music he played thrilled and inspired me/us
then his faith gave us the confidence to do what we did.
he supported 'the story of the blues' for 2 months when everyone else had given up on it,and that's what made it a hit.
and his friendship matters more than all that.
he named us the mighty wah!
i was the first person to co-host his show.
he said he never called an LP an album after i said it was wrong.
last time i saw him,he dj'ed in liverpool summer 2004,wearing a mighty wah! tshirt.he went on at seven minutes to midnight...
anyone else you'd think 'coincidence'.but not with peelie.
one of the motivating forces behind my next lp's,'pete sounds'and it's evil twin 'slime',was to make something peel would be proud of.
it's a shame he's not around to find out.
and the 1982 wah! peel session has just been voted among the 125 best sessions ever!
i loved him,i love him,i owe him.
and i don't think i ever let him know..."

The punctuation or lack of it is his, not mine. He got to record 6 sessions between 1980 and 2000, today's four songs were first broadcast 17th September 1984.

1. 'Basement Blues : The Story Of the Blues'
2. 'Better Scream'
3. 'Weekends'
4. 'Yuh Learn'

Still sounds fresh to me after all of those years and still gets my feet tapping away, those looking for a handy introduction could do worse than checking out 2000's career spanning compilation 'The Handy Wha! Whole', to be pronounced quickly to get the full effect of the word play!

Saturday, February 10, 2007


This Bug / Rock On

Silverfish were a Scottish band from the late '80s and early '90s that eventually found themselves signed to one of the hippest labels at the time, Creation that also had it's roots in the highlands. The bands focal point was singer Lesley Rankine who with her aggressive vocals and radical feminist views made the perfect partner for the bands metal influenced proto industrial noise. They managed four albums and numerous singles before their rising star was to fall to the ground with their split, Rankine went on to form the trip hop influenced Ruby but as they say that's another story.
The 'This Bug' single is fine example of what they did best, slightly chaotic noisy pop with raunchy female vocals. The single's B side might come as a surprise as it is a very good cover of one of David Essex's better songs 'Rock On' where the title's tribal feeling is pushed to the limit with some great overloaded guitar counter balanced by Bridge Over The River Kwai style whistling.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Peel Sessions 40

When many of you here the words Peel Session, I'm sure what springs into your head is images of that exceptionally fertile period that was the fall out of punk. There are maybe even some of you that think that Peel played his first platter in the wake of the revolution in '76! This is of course false as he had already achieved much more by this stage than many lesser jocks do in a whole life time. By far the great majority of Peel Sessions commercially available date from 1977 onwards and by far the biggest slice of discussion on the subject also concerns this period. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to come across a previously unknown to me Strange Fruit compilation while searching the second hand sites from 1991 with the revealing title 'Before The Fall', no surprise to discover that the 20 tracks, recorded between 1967 and 1977 are from Dinosaurs that were to reach the heights of stardom and offbeat 70' freaks that were obviously never going to hit the big time. Today I've chosen songs from 3 artists who were to go on to taste wealth and fame, another post will be dedicated to those artists of a more leftfield bent.
The early seventies were the boom period for the sensitive singer song writer both in sunny California and in drizzly Britain. A UK artist that was to go on to become a spokesman for opticians and glasses manufacturers around the world, Elton John, was in 1970 just warming up for greater things. In August that year he laid down tracks for what should have been a Peel Session, though purists might disagree as Peelie was absent at the time and replaced by whispering Bob Harris. 'Ballad Of A Well Known Gun' is taken from that second session the first having been aired two years previous and his last was from 1973.
It is hard to believe now but back then a young band such as Queen could easily be programmed in between the likes of Captain Beefheart and T. Rex. And such they also were invited into the studios on three occasions, February and December 1973 and October 1977. 'Doin' Alright' is from their second performance. I must admit that it seems strange to think that Peelie would being playing Queen along side the Pistols, X Ray Sex and choice reggae cuts in '77, this is just the proof that things were not as clear cut as maybe many of you think they were.
Nine sessions is not the record, though I think it must definitely define them as a Peel band, and no surprise really when listening to Phil Lynott's laddish romantic rockers such as 'Dancing In The Moonlight' from 1977 a fine example of the many hits that he was to churn out with such ease with his group Thin Lizzy, a band were one of the first in the UK to deliver street poetry.

Saturday, February 03, 2007



They look a happy enough bunch don't they? The Moonflowers were a collective with their roots in England's west country that were active between 1987 and 1997. I guess that they could be loosely termed as being part of the crusty movement, as they certainly displayed hippy influenced ideals, and would appear to have led a somewhat nomadic existence.
They came to my attention in 1992 when I received their 12" single 'Tighten Up On The House Work Brothers And Sisters" that was described on the cover as being a funky south west sound. The three tracks were played almost to death by me over this period and for very good reason, I like the organic, free, loose feel to their music. What also stood out was that here was one of the rare UK bands that were capable of locking into a funk groove, that would not be out of place on a US stage. Their musical influences are very much worn on their sleeves and would include Sly And The Family Stone and the extended George Clinton family. The three tracks were 'Tighten Up' a cover of an Archie Bell & The Drells song, 'Housework' that was used for a TV programe about guess what? The last track was the anthemic 'Brothers And Sisters', that reminds me in places in of the Neville Brothers, a live version can be found on their web site along with other free songs to download and If you like what you hear, all of their material is also available there at reasonable prices.

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