Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Impressions - It's About Time

I've bought The Impressions' post-Curtis Mayfield albums more out of a sense of obligation than excitement. Even the Times Have Changed set, penned by Mayfield, is lacklustre. Two words, though, on The Impressions' 1976 lp, It's About Time, immediately quickened my pulse: McKinley Jackson.

You probably own or love a few records McKinley Jackson has been on. He led The Politicians, the house band for Holland, Dozier and Holland's Hot Wax and Invictus labels, so if you've got a Chairmen of the Board or Freda Payne record, then you'll know how he can marshal a band.

Not only is this album arranged and produced by McKinley Jackson, it's got Funk Brother luminaries James Jamerson, Jack Ashford and Eddie Bongo Brown, plus possibly 70's funk's greatest rhythm guitarist Ray Parker Jr (listen to the Honey Cone's Want Ads or Leo Sayer's You Make Me Feel Like Dancing for proof of his trademark choppy sound).

With Detroit's finest in the studio, the band is as tight as ten toes in a sock. The underrated songwriting team of Mervin & Melvin Steals wrote 7 of the 8 songs. What could go wrong? Nothing. Curiously, It's About Time remains obscured in soul music history's shadows. I recently bought a still-sealed copy for $5.

If you see it, or McKinley Jackson and the Politicians' 1972 lp, untrouser your wallet immediately.
The Impressions You'll Never Find

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Primitives Peel Session

This Peel session comes from a time before The Primitives found studio polish and the charts. I reckon all those American bands of the past 5 years who sound a bit like the Shop Assistants might just have a fondness for The Primitives' raw melodicism as well.

I think this was spring 87. It shares tape space with sessions from Tbe Bodines, The Wedding Present and The Smiths anyhow.

Why upload this now? Well, The Primitives are playing at the Fortuna Pop birthday bash next week at the Scala - a few tickets are still available -and as label boss Sean Price once gave me free singles by Twinkie and Mogul, I owe him big time.

Am I going to the gig? No. I'm a humourless old shit who thinks The Primitives' best days are behind them.

She Don't Need You/Ocean Blue/Everything's Shining Bright/Dreamwalk Baby

Sunday, 23 October 2011

About Lawrence of Belgravia

Lawrence of Belgravia is a beautifully shot film. It's more of a portrait of an English eccentric than a straight biography. Large sections of the narrative are provided by journalists interviewing Lawrence. Despite Lawrence's often outre responses, director Paul Kelly cleverly lets the camera linger on each journalist a fraction longer than you'd expect, suggesting that maybe it's the journalists who are the bizarre characters.

This thoughtful approach to Lawrence might not satisfy Felt fans, people who value lyrical poetry, classic pop and intense intropsection but forget the downtrodden defeatism of the opening to Black Ship In The Harbour ("I was a pauper/I was second class/I was a moment/That quickly passed") or the, um, declaration in Declaration that "I will have as my epitaph the second line of Black Ship In The Harbour".

Felt lasted from 1979-89; Lawrence of Belgravia is about Lawrence from 1978- 2011. Felt are about a third of the picture, then, and the film is, rightly, a tragicomedy about a lost genius who has never quite managed to separate myth from fact or his ego from reality.

Lawrence, as the film makes clear from the publication of a medical report, has mental health issues. We're not told how serious these are, which suggests that parts of the film are, actually, more bittersweet than funny.

Of course, Lawrence is a man who wrote a song about the Rwandan genocide and called it Drinkin' Um Bongo. He is enigmatic beyond explanation; while Lawrence of Belgravia might antagonise a few Felt fans (especially those who never got to grips with either Denim or Go-Kart Mozart) it will please many more, even those with no appreciation of who Lawrence is, as a sensitive and touching portrait of an eccentric artist.

Felt fans can have Riding On The Equator, from their last ever gig (Lawrence said in the film that Felt would never reform, not even for £100,000):

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Primal Scream's second Peel Session, 1986

Primal Scream's second Peel Session from 14 May 1986 (at least that’s what it says on my tape) featuring Tomorrow Ends Today, Leaves, and Bewitched and Bewildered, and starring Jim Beattie. Primal Scream at this point are all about Beattie. Without him they would’ve been nothing. And after he left they really did become nothing (statisticians: I’m talking quality terms, not record sales).

The best members of Primal Scream in the mid-80s:
1. Jim Beattie
2. Thomas McGurk, Martin St John, Paul Harte
5. Anyone else I’ve forgotten
6. Bobby Gillespie. Fuck me, he was an embarrassment. Still is.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Lawrence of Belgravia

Can everyone please get over this idea that Felt had a masterplan to make 10 albums and 10 singles in 10 years? They didn't. What was that Lawrence told Melody Maker in December 1989?
I'm really looking forward to the film. Lawrence is a fascinating character and Felt are one of my favourite bands. But the widespread swallowing of the '10 myth' means it's always mentioned when people write about Felt or Lawrence.

There are far more interesting things about Felt than one fabrication which has caught the media's imagination. Like why did a band with such a distinct aesthetic publish guarantees of authenticity on their albums? Or why did contemporary Lloyd "read Norman Mailer or get a new tailor" Cole hit the charts but not Felt? Or why when about to play a London gig in 1987 in front of major labels and publishers, a potentially career-changing night, did Lawrence drop acid? He left the stage after 30 seconds because "everyone's looking at me".

I expect Lawrence of Belgravia will provide some answers and provoke more questions. And the BFI have, by simply getting the title right, given the film more respect than the Barbican did when it showed 20 minutes of footage three years ago:

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

McCarthy - a Malcolm Eden interview

"I was fortunate to catch a glimpse of myself in a cracked mirror at the age of three, and although others have come and gone, I have remained true to this sparkling vision."

"I don't really regard the lyrics as political, however I do tend to write about 'the world' rather than myself. This is a practice I would like to see encouraged in young shamblers."
This interview is reproduced from Simply Thrilled Honey fanzine, originally published sometime around September 87.

If anyone knows where Malcolm Eden is, or if dear reader you are in fact Malcolm Eden, London's fashionable Scared To Dance club is very keen to secure your DJing services in exchange for cash money.

Friday, 7 October 2011

David Kilgour plays The Clean

David Kilgour plays in The Clean, obviously, but this is him playing The Clean song Draw(in)g To A (W)hole solo in 1991, in Invercargill.

Draw(in)g To A (W)hole is on Vehicle, a record as influential to the indie undergound as James Brown's Funky Drummer has been to hip hop. Yes, Vehicle should be reissued, or at the very least English Heritage should put up a blue plaque outside Blackwing Studios where Vehicle was recorded.

"Bob Scott wrote that bassline."

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Hairs live last week

This is how it was: Buzzcocks spikiness, waspish Dunedin Sound jangle, short, sweet and dirty pop like Bee Thousand-era Guided By Voices, and the delirium of The Flaming Lips. Why can't more bands be this good?

The Hairs at Glasslands Gallery from Carlie Lazar on Vimeo.