venerdì 28 gennaio 2011

If you wanna smile (and trying to sing like Frankie L.)

Peter Astor was born to be a superstar but he wasn't. As Abe Smith he began playing guitars in Colchester, England, in the sixties. Later he formed The Loft, the band which released a few interesting singles for Creation records before splitting up in 1985. Then came The Weather Prophets, definitely the most underappreciated Creation band ever! Maybe just because they were one of the least heralded bands to record for Creation in the '80s, maybe because they jumped to the short-lived Creation-fed/Warner Bros.-financed Elevation imprint, or maybe because they didn't overflow with flash like the Primals or mess with heads like My Bloody Valentine. They just played their straightforward indie pop songs with a minimum of fuss and left the scene, doomed to be forgotten and undervalued. Chief songwriter/vocalist Pete Astor wrote and played at a same level as Lloyd Cole and Edwyn Collins and those were great songs... So Peter really has a stunning back catalogue for those eager to indulge and of his later stuff, the Wisdom of Harry is worth diving around on-line to find. Please take a listen again to the prophets playng germany in the late eighties and enjoy once more the wonderful jangly sound of the lost decade.

    mercoledì 19 gennaio 2011

    The kangaroos postcard

    Glasgow like Brisbane? The legend says that Mc Lennan and Forster took a train to Glasgow in a frozen 1980 March morning and David Mac Clymont, the OJ's bass player, was there at the station waiting for them. As far as I remember they were in Scotland to do an audition for Postcard Records which ended up being the I Need Two Heads single. Steven Daly was credited with drums in the sessions and someone said that "edwyn our hero" was also around the studio providing some guitars and cymbals... It was a legendary session anyway as Mc Lennan still remembers: "It was a great time. They were our age, they did not take music too seriously but it was the only thing they were interested in!". This was the story, the Go Betweens played also a pair of dates in Scotland with Orange Juice & Josef K and they finally fell in love with the city crowd. But now we all know that there were no Scottish folow up and the label itself soon lost its indie identity. Soon the kagaroos went back to London searching for a new contract and time deserved a quite luminous future for them. In the same days, Orange Juice signed to Polydor for their debut album, becaming a mere shadow of their former glory. But we like to imagine the two bands gigging together in front of an enthusiastic audience for once managed to dance to a group. The start and the finish of the Glasgow scene.

    martedì 11 gennaio 2011

    Distance fades between us

    Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys emerged, initially in early outfits such as The Id, but devoting increasingly more time to their experimental work as VCLXI - essentially the prototype Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. Their debut gig at Eric's Club in 1978 - and the subsequent release of Electricity - changed everything. OMD moved forward as a pop engine through a mighty catalogue of electropop classics but this was another story. There are some recordings, (not so) rare & precious, that still sounds as they could eventually be... an original band that launched their own unique style of catchy electronic melodies, in a quite inspired experimental vein, far enough from their maestro Gary Numan. Back then, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark might have seemed somewhat unwise, but the obvious commercial appeal of their music provoked enough interest that it eventually led to Factory Record's supremo Tony Wilson offering them the chance to cut their debut single 'Electricity' on the Factory label. Tony probably listened to the tapes I enclude here, perfectly capturing their infectious blend of melody and melancholia thru the sound of distant synthetizers. No punks or dope, no guitars & drums...take a step back to 1978 where those tracks were probably recorded and have a good listen!!!