martedì 1 aprile 2014

Loosing by win

Back to our beloved Italian New Wave, let's briefly talk about Wax Heroes this time, "a band that mattered" in the italian eighties scenario. The "wax thing" hailing from Treviso (where?!) put out only a great debut ep "Sher", a track on the seminal compilation "Gathered" by Rockerilla magazine and some 1982 demos... but that song, the percussive, foreboding "Win by loosing" is really something, a sort of masterpiece of Italian Post Punk. The band did not achieve any sort of popularity due to some bad luck and media noncurance. Rather than persevere and record their debut album, they gave up so soon and some of them ended up in Scent Merci, another band who had no future but great songs. The only discernible impact they had is that their influence could possibly be heard in many italian bands of the late eighties and first nineties, though the similarities could be a only coincidence.  A complete reissue with all their songs has been realised by Spittle records and, in my opinion, is badly needed for a nostalgic post punk lover.

venerdì 7 marzo 2014

The sound of happiness

Orange Juice stylistic influence can be seen across the board in UK  independent music, from DIY bands to later indie labels like Rough Trade, Sarah Records and Jeepster. Musically, bands like The Smiths, Franz Ferdinand and Belle and Sebastian have been outspoken about the influence of Orange Juice and others from the Postcard stable. It's not a surprise that still, their influence on the culture of alternative pop music and labels to follow has been huge. In the 1970's, Glasgow music scene had a reputation for hard drinking and hard rocking, not a lot more. Postcard changed that with bands like OJs that were fey, witty, intelligent and clean and had a sound influenced by the pop of the 60's and Northern Soul too. Also Orange Juice changed my life in those faraway years, first with their "sound of happiness" then with Postcard symbolism and subversiveness. Nothing special, just a kitten beating a drum, based on an early twentieth century Louis Wain illustration. At the time it was genuinely radical in its playfulness, going against the macho rock stereotype. In this redemption I believed and soon went to buy those old suede jackets & the same Davey Crocket hat Edwyn Collins used to wear... and what about their first 3 singles, what about those refrains!!! Anyway,  35 years after "the event", Domino is going to re-issue once again their 4 albums and OJ still seem so totally evocative of their time. According to their guru Alan Horne, "It was a time when it did not seem quite so naïve to be thinking that popular music might be something other than light entertainment from ‘dumb meets stupid’.” That's "all that ever mattered".

1 Falling and Laughing - live 1981 at Valentinos Edinburgh
2 Blueboy - live at Glasgow Tech. Inst. 1980
4 You-Old-Eccentric (peel)
5 Breakfast time - live somewhere 1982
6 Lovesick [Janice Long Session]
7 Simply thrilled honey (cassette free -  live)
8 The Postcard version of Texas Fever
9 Poor Old Soul/Rip it Up (live medley 83)
10 I Can`t Help Myself (live at ogwt)
11 Salmon fishing in new york (bbc session feb 1984)
12 Aztec Camera & Edwyn Collins _ Consolation Prize live (b-side)
13 Edwyn Collins - Felicity live at Ica 94
bonus track - Nu Sonics-I-Dont-Care

giovedì 6 febbraio 2014

Entering the secret world again!

As everybody probably knows, "Sarah Records was a truly independent record label founded by Clare Wadd and Matt Haynes in Bristol, England. Active between 1987-1995, Sarah Records set out to be different from other record labels. Committed to socialism and feminism and influenced by the fanzines and DIY attitude of the 70s punk scene, Clare and Matt were as vocal about their causes as their music. They were brave and uncompromising, refusing to play the music industry game to the very end and proved you can run a successful business without surrendering personal ethics. Sarah Records released a wide variety of music by bands based all over the UK and overseas. The fact that the label continues to attract new fans is testament to the quality and breadth of Sarah's discography." 
The good new is that there is now a documentary "My Secret World - The Story Of Sarah Records" that is the first  attempt to explore this legendary, influential and often misunderstood label.Please visit youtube, vimeo, twitter and anywhere else you can find the trailer and help to make distributors aware of  the film! My personal homage to Sarah Records is  a self made collection full of demos & alternate versions of Sarah classics.... Hope you like it!!!

A summer's tale (the sarah demos v.1)

01 The Springfields -  Sunflower (demo).mp3
02 the field mice emmas house demo.mp3
03 the sea urchins please rain fall demo.mp3
04 The orchids - An Ill Wind That Blows (Caff 7_ Demo).mp3
05 14 iced bear - first demo - Ring the Far Bell [#].mp3
06 Heavenly - peel - So Little Deserve.MP3
07 Tramway - Technical college (Demo version).mp3
08 Another Sunny Day - Genetic Engineering.mp3
09 St. Christopher - Crystal Clear.mp3
10 The sweetest ache - when you see her (demo).mp3
11 East River Pipe - Fatherland (rare track).mp3
12- Breathe (Eternal Demo).mp3
13 Even As We Speak - Straight As An Arrow.PEEL
14 Northern Picture Library - Snowscene (Alaska outtake).mp3
15 Primal scream - Tomorrow Ends Today.mp3

mercoledì 8 gennaio 2014

Sending letters from East Kilbride

Aztec Camera, from East Kilbride, it seems yesterday that they were the next Postcard stars ready to shine, but it was more or less 35 years ago.... Main man, Roddy Frame at the time was still a very young whippersnapper with an enourmous talent for writing songs, even more than his friend Edwyn, He was quite a flashy guitarist also, not in a Jimi Hendrix way, but it showed through in his choice of chords and his solo runs and he was a great player anyway. Quite sophisticated for bright & breezy pop songs. I mean, goodness knows how many chord changes there are in their songs if you ever tried to play them in years. Anyway, it was the sound of Young Scotland (?!) or was it only bunch of upbeat sparkly tunes for people tired of post punk gothic anthems... I don't know. No need to say how important the've been in "our" music and in my life... I  bought anything of theirs I could find including live tapes and badges for years... High Land Hard Rain definitely ranks among the very greatest debut albums of all times. Years after came the C86 bands, the new folk heroes etc... What I know for sure is that these early songs (recorded live in 1982 at the Astor Univ.) certainly show an incredible emotional depth and tug at the heart strings here and there... Sadly, this was the 80's,and progress, unfortunately,meant getting in big name producers and spending weeks/months achieving big drum sounds! Quality and the special touches get blown away by the sheer gloss and polish of the production...A crying shame,but it has its moments...

domenica 8 dicembre 2013

Flewing jets again (for the US airforce)

Having recently seen them pithily reviewed online somewhere as "Joy Division without the joy", someone forgets (or maybe he never knew) that Artery was one of the bands that sprung up in 1978 and they developed a large following also here in Italy where they incredibily had a minor hit with their single "Into the garden"! "People wanted to express themselves and that opened doorways" said Mark while reforming his band in 2007... It's a real pleasure to hear them again with a lot of new powerful songs to perform... welcome back Mark it's really a a huge pleasure to hear your great band again after 25 years with your magic intact, "never to late to spread the word"...

lunedì 25 novembre 2013

The "sweetest" girls

Possibly the finest early eighties band never to have a chart single and they split up before having any real success. According to wonderous singer Judy : "...When the first single ”Getting Nowhere Fast° became NME single of the week, the group ‘Girls At Our Best!” didn’t exist as such. Jez (James Allen) & I were determined to get our 2 songs on vinyl with a view to seeing what if anything happened next. Well something did happen & another record was clamoured for which meant we had to write 2 more songs & find someone to help us record them. This was the time when Gerard Swift & Carl Harper joined us; but there was no serious intention of playing live until much later. The music & the lyrics we wrote, the strategy we used, the image we tried to create was definitely intended to be a serious force in popular music, but we disguised it so as not to appear pretentious, intellectual or musically serious. I suppose that with most bands that break up, the reasons are both incredibly simple & boringly complicated. There was a series of events which I think inevitably led to the band splitting up. We went to America, as just mentioned, which screwed everybody up a little bit. Our record contract came to an end just after our return & we were all getting on each other’s nerves. Just at this vital point in the career of GAOB, when there should have been consolidation, vision & energy, there was a big void & we all just drifted apart. The record contract was left to rot & GAOB didn’t exist anymore...." Girls At Our Best were one of the finest, most life-affirming of a new breed of independent bands who cropped up at the turn of the 80s – long-standing fan John Peel once referred to them as one of the few groups that made the period bearable. All four of their singles for their own Record Records, Rough Trade and Happy Birthday Records are pure gems. The album "Pleasure" a little bit less but still memorable. Hear them playing live with their unique pre C-86 style and enjoy once again Judy's distinctive unique voice.

the season of steel

The idea of an Italian Wave as a genre remains a difficult beast to try and capture, file or contain. The music often collected under that banner is strongly associated with a sort of "total derivative" sound that looked at uk post punk bands, but it also grew by itself becoming something more interesting and complex. Nowadays, from our lofty 21st Century perspective, Italian Wave appears to mount repeated incursions into an almost unknowable number of previously well guarded genres: Synthpop, Techno, Dark, Punk, Garage etc.. United mainly by barely commodified electronics and tiny print runs of 7“s and later cassettes (although somewhat morbidly respectable by today’s sales standards). All of this decentralised music making makes an easily digestible guide all but impossible. And exactly like many of the Uk post punk bands that inspired our italian wave movement, our bands faded into domesticity and obscurity soon after their ninyl debuts. No Depeche Mode and no Cure here in Italy, just a pair of bands like litfiba & Diaframma that were arguably the most successful, carving out a career that’s now spanned (amazingly) four decades. but we're more interested in the ones that couldn't survived the passing of time. This is a simple "homage" to them through a compilation of  updated sounds from  those "now reformed" heroes of italian wave... a little adventure in the music from a far decade which we don't want to become another forgotten story.