Blackstar & Oh, To Be a Defector (Best of 2015, Part One)

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Okay, in no particular order, the first batch of my thirty favourite tracks released during 2015, kicking off with David Bowie – who I first heard in 1969 when Space Oddity made the British singles chart – and Chorusgirl, a London based act that I only discovered a few weeks ago and whose self titled album is just out on Fortuna POP! I have also included a list of my five top reads and, in future weeks, you can expect ten of the very best compilations, reissues or soundtracks and the ten films that have impressed me the most.


_Linden: Rest and Be Thankful
John Foxx: Oceanic II
FFS: Johnny Delusional
Anton Newcombe and Tess Parks: German Tangerine
David Bowie: Blackstar:

Django Django: First Light
Jacco Gardner: Find Yourself
The Pop Group: Mad Truth
The Cathode Ray: Resist
Chorusgirl: Oh, To Be a Defector

Chorusgirl play Nice N Sleazy in Glasgow on 06/12/15 with The Spook School and tickets are only six quid.

For more on Chorusgirl click here for their official site. And here for their Facebook page.


It’s been a year where I have read less new fiction than is normally the case although, before the end of the year, I am hoping to make a start on the new Ian Rankin Rebus novel and Silenced by talented Glasgow crime writer A.J. McCreanor. And I might even have a go at Morrissey’s fiction debut, List of the Lost, a book savaged by many critics and which has just been nominated for The Literary Review’s annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Heaven knows how Morrissey will feel if it wins this unwelcome ‘honour’ but I’m guessing pretty miserable.

Anyway, here’s my top five:

Stuart DavidIn the All-Night Cafe
Stuart Cosgrove – Detroit 67
David Cavanagh – Good Night and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Life
Kris Needs – Dream Baby Dream: Suicide: A New York City Story
Irvine Welsh – A Decent Ride


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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


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.

Glastonbury 2015


To a lot of us Phun City and Glastonbury Fair a year later, were glimpses of the future. Glimpses of a community sharing possessions, living with the environment, maintaining their culture and whatever is naturally available, consuming their needs and little else. It was a powerful vision.

Mick Farren: Watch Out Kids (1972)

I’m guessing that there will be a lot of idealists packing their organic hemp backpacks and preparing for yet another Glastonbury as I type. Some might even remember the first festival where the entrance fee was a pound (including a free carton of fresh milk) and T.Rex topped the bill just a month before the release of Ride a White Swan.

I’m also guessing that there will be many, many more revellers with next to no interest in living with the environment and consuming their needs and little else and whose main reason to attend will be the chance to sing along to the chorus of Gold Digger when Kanye West takes to the stage or maybe catch a glimpse of some celeb like Wayne Rooney or Kate Moss. When the party ends this lot will depart happily leaving sleeping bags, tents and a mountain of rubbish behind for someone else to deal with.

As I’ve mentioned before, although I have been to a number of festivals over the years, I’m a small venue type of guy who likes seeing the whites of a singer’s eyes. On Saturday, for instance, I’m heading into McChuill’s in Glasgow where Ali McKenzie and the Band of 1000 Dances will be playing a set – incidentally, this Ali is the former singer with Ronnie Wood’s old band The Birds and not to be confused with the Subs/Shakin’ Pyramids drummer Ali MacKenzie.

Wearing a court jester hat, queuing up for the chance to be charged a fiver for a bacon roll and having my view of the stage obstructed by some eejit waving around a crap flag aren’t too high on my to do list.

Oh, and while I’m at it, when I am desperate for some badly needed shuteye I don’t want some neighbouring trustafarian tapping on his bongo drums outside my tent for hours on end either. This did once happen to me and the said trustafarian asked me the next morning if I’d enjoyed the vibes he had created.

Saying that, this year’s Glastonbury line-up, as always, has a fair number of acts that do appeal to me. And if I had shelled out over two hundred quid for a ticket one of the performances that I would most like to take in would be FFS, or Franz Ferdinand and Sparks if you prefer.

They might have jointly penned a track called Collaborations Don’t Work that but their recently released album is on the whole a very enjoyable listen. From it, here’s Johnny Delusional:

Also playing over the weekend will be Tuff Love, Sleaford Mods, Buzzcocks, The Pop Group, Patti Smith, Lonelady, The Fall, Slaves, Belle and Sebastian, Alvvays, Paul Weller, Django Django, Courtney Barnett, The Waterboys and Fat White Family. And, of course, Glastonbury isn’t just about music and this year features everything from Puppet theatre and a screening of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to a Northern Soul Party with Eddie Piller and anti bullying workshops, to name only four events scattered across the site.

Jim Lambie Linden cover
Also on Saturday I’m gonna be making the short trek from McChuill’s to Mono, where hopefully I can finally get my paws on a copy of the new album, Rest & Be Thankful, from one of the country’s most consistently fine yet underrated songwriters, Joe McAlinden, formerly of Superstar, who now seems to be styling himself and his band as _Linden.

Here’s the title track:

For more on Glastonbury, click here.

For more on FFS:

For more on _Linden: