FFS

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There’s some potentially very fine shows taking place in Glasgow over the next few days. On Thursday _Linden play the Poetry Club in Glasgow and the following night Lola in Slacks, one of the most promising new Scottish acts to emerge in recent years, will be launching their debut single Tramlines at the CCA.

FFS Barrowlands

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Oh and tonight FFS will be onstage at the Barrowlands, a show that a grown man maybe shouldn’t be getting quite as excited about as I am but one that promises to be a very special event that will live long in the memory. Sparks and Franz Ferdinand for fuck’s sake! At the Barrowlands!

I’m especially looking forward to hearing their version of Sparks’ This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us, a song that never makes any of those lists of the greatest ever singles but which certainly should.

Here are Sparks performing the song in 1974 on German TV pop show Disco with an audience that seems to have been collectively on valium. In fact, I’m guessing that Ron and Russell would have had to dispense with the sound effects and fired real gunshots in the studio to have elicited any sort of reaction from this bunch.


And now for some Franz Ferdinand without Sparks, performing what is still their best known work Take Me Out live last year at T in the Park – and no complaints this time about their reception from the audience, who were likely on the Buckfast collectively for the show:


For more on Sparks click here. For more on Franz Ferdinand click here and for more on FFS, guess what? Yep, click here.

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An English Post-Punk Top Ten

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Okay, inspired by the Post-Punk Top Ten recently selected by Jeremy Thoms of the Cathode Ray for Louder Than War, here’s my own list of favourites from England with a Scottish post-punk top ten to follow. Yes, this is a lazy post but with plenty of very fine music I’m sure you’ll agree.

Magazine: The Light Pours Out of Me (1978)

Greenock’s John McGeoch was very possibly the greatest guitarist of the post-punk era but – as you will see from this video – not much shakes at miming. This was the opening song played by the reformed Magazine when they played the O2 in Glasgow in 2009, a show where Noko substituted for McGeoch on guitar; the Magazine, Visage, Banshees, Armoury Show and PiL man having sadly died in 2004.

Pete Shelley: Homosapien (1981)

Produced by Pete along with Martin Rushent, who also produced the first three Buzzcocks albums, the first three Stranglers albums and Dare by The Human League. This single stands right up there with all those. Pete, incidentally, is photographed on the Homosapien album cover wearing some dapper threads and sitting in front of a Commodore PET computer, which makes me think how technology has accelerated wildly over the past three and a half decades, while this track still sounds relatively contemporary.

The Slits: Heard It Through the Grapevine (1979)

Do covers of classic Motown tracks count as post punk? Yes, because I say so.

PiL: Public Image (1978)

Based on a book written by Edinburgh author Muriel Spark which John Lydon described in his recent autobiography as: ‘A very small book, but it’s a great storyline, about how the publicity machine turns an average actress into a monstrous diva and she wrecks everyone around her. I didn’t want that happening with me or my imagery.’

The Passions: I’m in Love with a German Film Star (1981)

Written about former Sex Pistols and Clash roadie Steve Connolly aka Roadent, who moved to Germany where – you’ve guessed it – he acted in several films although I’m not sure if he could really be described as a ‘star’. The Passions are often categorised as one hit wonders but they deserve better than that.

Joy Division: Transmission (1979)

If anybody knows of a more intense performance caught on TV please get in touch and let me know about it.

Lori and The Chameleons: Touch (1979)

Bit of a curveball here. Released on the Zoo label as we were getting ready to wave goodbye to the seventies, these Chameleons were apparently Dave Balfe and Bill Drummond but as for Lori, I can’t tell you anything about her although I’m guessing she is still likely mystified why this single didn’t sell a whole lot more copies.

Wire: Map Ref 41°N 93°W (1979)

The best track on an LP (154) that Nick Kent in NME suggested was the album that Bowie and Eno set out to make when they worked on Lodger. Map Ref 41°N 93°W is also the best song ever about a cartographer.

Sad Lovers & Giants: Imagination (1981)

One of the rules of compiling a list like this seems to be that at least one obscurity must be chosen. Who are Sad Lovers & Giants? I hear some of you ask. The Cure influenced Sound of Young Watford, that’s who.

The Cure: All Cats Are Grey (1981)

And finally The Cure themselves, a band that I’ve not followed very closely for decades now but whose first three albums I will always love.

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On another day these might have been included: Colin Newman: I’ve Waited Ages / The Fall: Lie Dream of a Casino Soul / Mo–Dettes: White Mice / Gang of Four: To Hell With Poverty / Wild Swans: Revolutionary Spirit / Siouxsie and The Banshees: Spellbound.

Architect & The Bird

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C Duncan and Kathryn Joseph

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Over the past few months I’ve heard a few folk making the claim that Scottish music is more vibrant and diverse than ever before; a current ad for Vic Galloway’s radio show says something along these lines, while the blog Radical Independent Music recently ran an article asking ’Has Scottish Indie Music Ever Been In Ruder Health?’ 

Now, almost inevitably being in my late teens when Simple Minds, Orange Juice, Josef K, Scars, The Associates, Fire Engines, Aztec Camera and others emerged in the late seventies and early eighties, I will likely always think of this being the best era for new Scottish music.

Saying that, there is undoubtedly a more diverse range of acts on offer in Scotland today, many that I have featured over the last year or so: Young Fathers, The Sexual Objects, Honeyblood, _Linden, Natalie Pryce, The Moon Kids, The Cathode Ray, Port Sulphur and Lola In Slacks as well as the two acts I cover below, C Duncan and Kathryn Joseph.

This is undoubtedly an eclectic and very talented bunch and I could add a couple of folkies or even some shiny synthpop and electronica acts and reggae sound system Mungo’s Hi Fi for good measure to better demonstrate the spectrum of what is happening across the country.

C Duncan, if you don’t know, is a Glaswegian whose recently released album Architect certainly sounds more Laurel Canyon than Castlemilk or Kinning Park. Released on Fat Cat, Architect is a meticulously crafted piece of work which C (or Chris if you prefer) wrote himself and recorded entirely in his bedroom, playing every note of music on each of the twelve tracks. He also designed the cover artwork and spent several days at a record manufacturing plant helping to press vinyl copies of the album.

Okay, I did make up that last part.

This is music to daydream to with Fleet Foxes being the obvious influence but think also Talk Talk, The Beach Boys, sunshine psychedelia and even French Impressionist composers such as Ravel and Debussy. Chris incidentally has a classical background, having studied at what is now rather pretentiously known as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland although it might still have been the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama when he was a student there.

Everything seems to be moving in a positive direction for Chris. Architect was named an album of the day on BBC 6 Music, where he recorded a session for Lauren Laverne; together with his live band he has recently supported Belle and Sebastian at Somerset House in London, made an acclaimed appearance at Latitude and sold out a show at Glasgow’s CCA.

From the album this is Garden:


Architect will be a major contender for next year’s SAY Award, believe me – and I did tip Young Fathers and Kathryn Joseph to win the last two awards, so I might just know what I’m talking about. For a change.

Kathryn Joseph is, I think, the finest Scottish female vocalist to emerge since Elizabeth Fraser, or in the words of one listener to Marc Riley’s 6 Music show earlier in the week (which showcased a session from Kathryn and musical partner Marcus Mackay), she is ‘Dolly Parton’s younger, gothy sister.’

See what you think, from her album bones you have thrown me and blood I’ve spilled, this is the stunning new video created by Scottish Ballet and shot in sunny Irvine for her new single The Bird:


For more on C Duncan, click here and for more on Kathryn Joseph, here’s your link.