The BAMS (Best of 2014, Part Three)

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Apologies, you’re all very likely fed up with best of the year lists offered up on here and elsewhere over the past few weeks but after this post its gonna be back to business as usual. I promise.

This year I was asked to provide a couple of top ten albums of the year lists, one for Louder Than War and another for the BAM awards. Both differ slightly with the BAMS displaying more of a Scottish bias.

BAMS if you don’t know, stands for Blogs and Music Sites and the award has been on the go since 2009, inaugurated by Lloyd from the Peenko blog although in recent years he’s been helped out by Mike from Manic Pop Thrills with support from Lloyd and Stuart from Is This Music?.

The first winner was The Wants by The Phantom Band, while last year, CHVRCHES scooped the prize of a bottle of the country’s finest tonic wine with The Bones of What You Believe.

So, why not pour yourself a glass of Bamgria (that’s equal measures of Buckfast and Irn Bru with slices of fresh fruit optional, folks) and see what you think of these ten choices. Alternatively try a Punk Champagne, which, so I’m told, consists of two parts Diamond White cider to one part Buckfast.

Okay, those albums of the year:

10. Morrissey: World Peace is None of Your Business
09. North Atlantic Oscillations: The Third Day

 
08. The Vaselines: V for Vaselines
07. Alvvays: Self Titled
06. James King and The Lonewolves: Lost Songs of the Confederacy


05. Edwin Collins, Carwyn Ellis and Sebastian Lewsley: The Possibilities Are Endless OST
04. Vic Godard & Subway Sect: 1979 NOW!
03. Beck: Morning Phase
02. Mogwai: Rave Tapes

And at #1, the band led by Dale Barclay, a man who who’s been known to have the odd swig of Buckie both on and offstage.

01. The Amazing Snakeheads: Amphetamine Ballads

Here they are back in May, performing Here It Comes Again in Amsterdam’s Zonnehuis Theatre for the Dutch TV show 2 Meter Sessies:

 
Along with Palma Violets, Fat White Family and Slaves, The Amazing Snakeheads will be part of next year’s NME Awards Tour which kicks off in Sheffield on February 19, before heading to Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow, Nottingham, Manchester, Oxford, Birmingham, Bristol and Portsmouth and finally, on March 4, The Forum in Kentish Town.

For more on North Atlantic Oscillations click here.
For more on James King and The Lonewolves click here.
For more on The Amazing Snakeheads click here.

EDIT: And the winner was….

… The Twilight Sad with Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave.

For more information click here.

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Tied Up In Nottz, A Perfect Storm & The Wind That Cried The World (Best of 2014, Part Two)

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Change of plan. Instead of the best thirty tracks of the year, I’ve decided to make it 35. So, again in no particular order, here are the final twenty of those selections plus ten albums that are either compilations, reissues, recorded live or soundtracks.

Singles

Subway Sect: Born to be a Rebel
The Vaselines: Crazy Lady
North Atlantic Oscillations: August
Simple Minds: Blindfolded
BMX Bandits: My Girl Midge
Moodoid: La Lune
& Sleaford Mods: Tied Up In Nottz


Honeyblood: Super Rat
St Vincent: Digital Witness
James King and The Lonewolves: Fun Patrol
Hookworms: On Leaving
Poppy Seed and the Love Explosion: In the Real
Future Islands: Seasons
& Casual Sex: A Perfect Storm


Young Fathers: Get Up
Alvvays: Adult Diversion
Odonis Odonis: Alexa Wait
Roxy Agogo: When You Dress Up
Sonido Gallo Negro: Inca-A-Delic
& The Phantom Band: The Wind that Cried the World


Compilations

Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground 45th Anniversary Edition
Franz Ferdinand: Late Night Tales
David Bowie: Nothing Has Changed
The Bluebells: Exile on Twee Street
Edwin Collins, Carwyn Ellis and Sebastian Lewsley: The Possibilities Are Endless OST
Various Artists: Punk 45: Sick On You! One Way Spit!
Pixies: Doolittle 25
Vic Godard: 30 Odd Years
Bis: Social Dancing
& Siouxsie and The Banshees: Peepshow

If anybody’s wondering, my favourite film was Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, favourite documentary is a toss–up between The Possibilities Are Endless and All This Mayhem and my favourite gig was The Nectarine No. 9 performing Saint Jack in its entirety at Rutherglen Town Hall – with Casual Sex supporting. Oh yeah.

Teenage Exorcists, Ron Asheton & Pieces of Me (Best of 2014, Part One)

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Same as last year except spread over two posts, in no particular order, thirty of my favourite new tracks released during 2014, at least I think they’re all from 2014, along with ten of the very best compilations, reissues or soundtracks and five books.

My top ten albums in order will follow on before the end of the year but for now, here’s the first batch of single tracks together with my the five music books that have impressed me the most.

Singles

The Amazing Snakeheads: Here It Comes Again
Morrissey: World Peace is None of Your Business
Opium Kitchen: We Will Be
TV Smith: I Delete
Mogwai: Teenage Exorcists

 
Beck: Turn Away
Ming City R*ckers: I Wanna Get Out of Here (But I Can’t Take You Anywhere)
The Rosy Crucifixion: Sinners
The Nightingales: Dumb and Drummer
The Sexual Objects: Ron Asheton

 
King Creosote: For One Night Only
Cleaners From Venus: Imaginary Seas
Cosines: Out of the Fire
Lola in Slacks: False Lines (demo)
Lucy’s Diary: Pieces of Me

 
The Written Word

Viv Albertine: Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys. Faber.
John Lydon: Anger is an Energy: My Life Uncensored. Simon & Schuster.
Peter Doherty: From Albion to Shangri-La (Transcribed and edited by Nina Antonia). Thin Man Press,
David Stubbs: Future Days: Krautrock and the Building of Modern Germany. Faber.
Steve Hanley & Olivia Piekarski: The Big Midweek: Life Inside the Fall. Route.

New York, London, Paris, Wishaw

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Over the past week or so I’ve been to see The Jesus and Mary Chain performing Psychocandy in its entirety at the Barrowlands and watched Channel 4’s What We Wore: 80s Glasgow – The Outsiders.

Just like thirty years ago when I first saw the Mary Chain in their early days, their sound was often atrocious; unlike back then, though, they showed up bang on time and played a fairly lengthy set, launching immediately into an ‘encore’ before getting down to tackling their debut album in its original running order.

At least that’s the way I remember things as, just like 1985, I have to confess to overdoing the booze beforehand, although probably not to the extent that I would have when I once saw them play in Glasgow club, Daddy Warbucks, which also used to host the Splash One nights, the main subject of the Channel 4 doc.

Although I generally avoid Channel 4 nowadays due to some of the contemptible crap like Benefits Street they insist on cluttering up their schedules with, this was definitely worth a watch and is still available as I type on 4oD.

The interviewees were well chosen: no Reid brothers admittedly but their Barrowlands support act Rose McDowall appeared, as did Stephen Pastel, Thurston Moore and others, including the always entertaining Mr. Duglas T. Stewart, who should really have his own show. Preferably replacing Benefits Street.

Oh and the Griffin Bar on Bath Street got a couple of mentions, something I hadn’t envisaged ever happening in the course of any documentary. Was there a few weeks back but rather than any indie kid hang-out, the joint was rammed with middle aged women having a few G&Ts before heading over the road to the King’s Theatre to see the stage version of The Full Monty.

I could have did with another half an hour of The Outsiders although, on the minus side, one or two of folk did occasionally come close to the old cliché that punk didn’t arrive in Glasgow until years afterwards.

No punk scene in Glasgow in 1977?

Dear reader, there was even a punk scene in Wishaw.

And just like New York had CBCGs, London had The Roxy and Paris had Le Gibus, Wishaw had their own venue for punk music in the heady days of ’77, the Crown Hotel.

Okay, that last sentence could be described as a little jokey but it is undeniably true.

The moderately sized town of Wishaw in what is now known as North Lanarkshire lies around 15 miles to the south-east of Glasgow and it would have to be said it’s a fairly unremarkable place. When I interviewed Ming City R*ckers a few months ago, they took great pleasure in portraying their home town of Immingham as a hell-hole. One anonymous reader posted the following comment: ‘They’ve obviously never been tae Wishaw if they think their town is crap’.

The Jolt consisted of singer and guitarist Robbie Collins, Jim Doak on bass and Ian Sheddon on drums. Robbie and Ian were from Wishaw, Jim from neighbouring Shotts.

Fanzine Ripped and Torn showcased the band early in their career, Collins revealing that he’d jacked in Uni after a miserable couple of years there, while Doak had been kicked off his course at Glasgow Uni after failing everything two years running. Tut. Tut. Ian Sheddon meanwhile was writing the pop page for his local paper, the Wishaw Press, whose offices were handy for the Crown.

The three had known each other since their schooldays and began thinking of getting something together musically in the first half of 1975, a time by which Collins was already fed up with the direction that most music was taking.

Increasingly he found himself attracted to 60s R&B with Dr Feelgood’s Malpractice being one of the few contemporary records he loved.

As Collins told Ripped and Torn: ‘We played our first gig (as a trio) with more of a punk repertoire on Dec 2 [1976]. The punters were more interested in knocking hell out of each other & the cops arrived. We climaxed our set with a thundering “New Rose”’. He then explained: ‘The ‘new wave’ arrived at the best time coz it made us feel that we weren’t alone in what we were trying to do and it helped us to move our ideas into the seventies.’

Their second gig was played in front of only half a dozen punters in the Crown although they demonstrated enough potential to secure themselves a Saturday afternoon residency, where their set would showcase a mixture of their own tunes like Show Stoppers, Dire Straights and Decoyed along with some punk covers and some more punter friendly covers of songs by the likes of The Small Faces. They went on to play twenty straight gigs at the Crown, all the while building an audience.

The venue also witnessed the first appearance of The Skids outside Dunfermline; Johnny and The Self Abusers and Rev Volting and The Backstabbers made the short journey from Glasgow to play there too and another punky Wishaw outfit The Pests were regulars. The Glasgow Herald paid a visit to the hotel with a photographer in tow to take some snaps for their The Punk World feature (part of which is reproduced here, sorry for the state of the scan):

Glasgow Herald.The Punk Worldj

In another article in the summer of ’77, this time one from the Wishaw Press, titled It’s Punk – and we love it!, Jack Kerr, the hotel’s owner, spoke of the perceived gamble in allowing punk. ‘At first there were many small incidents, mainly the customary spitting among the audience, but I have this controlled and have no regrets that I gave the group a chance.’

By this point, dozens were being turned away due to the limited capacity of the Crown and The Jolt began to attract the attentions of some London record labels, quickly becoming the first Scottish punk or new wave act to sign with a major, Polydor, reportedly on a four year deal worth £90,000.

Polydor was already the home of another three-piece with passion for punk flavoured 60s R&B inspired songs, The Jam, and Paul Weller became a big fan of the Lanarkshire band, roping them in for support slots whenever possible and (later) even giving them a song of his called See Saw.

The Jam & The Jolt - Glasgow Apollo November 1977

Inevitably, The Jolt made the move south and while in London, were one of the acts filmed by Wolfgang Büld, a young German director who had just moved from Munich to Britain to make documentaries. Punk in London (which would surface in 1978) showcased the band with a short interview together with footage of them performing at the Red Cow on Hammersmith Road, where they belted out the song that would become their first vinyl offering: You’re Cold.

With the imminent release of the single, The Jolt embarked on some promotional gigs in London before returning again to Scotland where they fitted in a homecoming show at the Crown – this, though, didn’t go quite as planned and apparently near the end of their performance, the band walked off the stage and refused to play on after the Crown’s owner insisted that the audience stop dancing.

Jack Kerr suggested the band’s success might have gone to their heads and there was talk of a ban although the band could have easily claimed they’d outgrown the Crown anyway.

The Jolt faced more criticism after a proposed date at the Silver Thread in Paisley supposedly had to be cancelled following a sound check where it was declared they were too noisy although they did go on to play dates in Edinburgh at Clouds, followed by, on the same day, a lunchtime gig at the Isle of Skye Hotel in Perth then one at the Maryat in Dundee that evening.

A week after the Crown walk-off, You’re Cold was met with some less than sparking reviews. NME’s Steve Clarke summed up the track in fourteen scathing words: ‘Strictly third division punk from this Scots combo. Untidy and lacklustre playing. Flat production’, while Ian Birch in Melody Maker denounced the record as: ‘Two rapid songs full of identikit sentiment. Chris Parry’s production makes the experience even more drowsy.’

To be fair, the band themselves weren’t hugely impressed by Parry and Robbie would later accuse the producer of thinking it was still ’76; claiming the single sounded like a demo.

I reckon the critics were being very harsh though. See what you think, this is You’re Cold:

 
More on The Jolt in 2015.