Bad Cover Versions, Marc E. Smith in 2027, A Comparison between Arcade Fire and David Brent and the Best Thing to Come Out of Halifax since John Noakes

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Few moments in the history of pop music can rival the absolute grandeur of Scott Walker’s baritone soaring over the impeccable orchestrations of tracks like Mrs Murphy or Montague Terrace (In Blue). Utterly sublime, dontcha think?

Maybe best of all is the macabre MOR of Plastic Palace People, which somehow managed to be a damn sight more trippy than 99% of the psychedelia going around at the time of its release; distinctly uneasy listening I would guess for a majority of the mainstream audiences that might tune into the BBC’s Saturday night variety show Scott but were more likely to enjoy a bit of Engelbert to Noel Scott Engel.

So did Jarvis Cocker’s take on the song impress last Friday during the Scott Walker Proms tribute on BBC 4 at the Albert Hall, fanboy karaoke or inventive reinterpretation?

Answer: fanboy karaoke and verging on the cringeworthy too.

The others on the bill, John Grant, Susanne Sundfør and Richard Hawley were better but none really took Walker’s simple advice beforehand to ‘try to approach it in a new way.’ Like Scott’s take on a bunch of Jacques Brel tracks. Or for that matter Alex Harvey’s version of Next.

Terrible though Jarvis was I won’t let it put me off His n’ Hers, or for that matter, the Scott Walker produced We Love Life – which, of course contained a track titled Bad Cover Version with a dig at Scott’s ‘Til The Band Comes In.


I seriously think Mark. E Smith would have been a better choice to tackle a Scott masterpiece as he really does possess the effortless knack of approaching cover versions in a new way whether it’s Sister Sledge, R. Dean Taylor or The Move.

My plan this week was to hopefully feature something from New Facts Emerge but none of the tracks have any accompanying videos and, more importantly, none of them are anywhere near as good as best work of the band.

It’s almost unthinkable – well to me anyway – but The Fall have been on something of a downward spiral for the ten years since Reformation Post TLC and the departure from the band of Smith’s missis Eleni Poulou clearly hasn’t helped matters.

In another ten year’s time Smith will still be The Fall and on his latest album there will no no music as such. It will consist solely of one long piece where the singer rants incoherently about conspiracy theories; growls; coughs up his guts and cackles insanely at something which will never become clear. It’ll also likely make Couples vs Jobless Mid 30s from New Facts sound commercial, which is saying something.

I’ll still likely be daft enough to buy a copy though.

Instead of The Fall, here’s some Arcade Fire.

Their new album Everything Now was produced by the band themselves, along with Daft Punk‘s Thomas Bangalter and Jarvis Cocker’s old Pulp mucker Steve Mackey, with co-production coming from Markus Dravs. Recorded at a number of studios including Boombox in New Orleans, the album has divided opinion. Big style.

The Independent and NME both rate Everything Now 5/5, while the 405’s reviewer reckons it’s ‘horrendously misjudged, with songs that are not just boring but actively unlikeable’ and ‘a compositional mess, somehow both gratuitously moralising and morally repugnant, duller than watching already-dry paint.’ That’ll be a 2/10 which begs the question how rank rotten would this reviewer judge an album to be before he hands out a 1.

I’m finding Everything Now very uneven as a whole (although I do prefer it to their Springsteen influenced second album) and can’t work out they failed to include I Give You Power (ft. Mavis Staples) their single from earlier in the year but thought it was a good idea to accommodate Chemistry, a track that could have been part of David Brent’s set on Life on the Road.

I do, though, adore the title track and it’s two shorter variants – Everything_Now (Continued) and Everything Now (Continued). When I first heard it I thought of everything from You’re Just To Good To Be True and the piano on Dancing Queen through to girls on holiday dancing round handbags and Peruvian buskers on Argyle Street, which can’t be a bad thing – and few songs with such downbeat lyrics have ever felt so joyous, have they?


Singer Win Butler has been railing over the past few days about criticism of the album, particularly of his ‘rapping’ on Signs Of Life. He denies he was even attempting to rap and is utterly pissed off.

So now he knows how some fans feel when his band issue dress codes for their shows, ticket holders for some recent gigs being requested to refrain from wearing ‘shorts, large logos, flip flops, tank tops, crop tops, baseball hats, solid white or red clothing,’ while also warning, ‘We reserve the right to deny entry to anyone dressed inappropriately.’

Fuck that for a caper.

Although, to be fair, they might be on to something by banning baseball caps. And flip flops too come to think of it.

Arcade Fire have just announced some dates for Spring 2018, including a date at Glasgow’s Hydro.

For more on the band: https://www.facebook.com/arcadefire/

The Orielles are a newish indie act from the good town of Halifax – let’s not hold the fact that it’s the birthplace of Ed Sheeran against it.

The band feature a couple of sisters, Esmé Dee Hand Halford (bass & vocals) and Sidonie B Halford (drums) together with their pal Henry Carlyle Wade (guitar & vocals).

Signed to Heavenly, the band like Sonic Youth and Steely Dan, Pavement and The Pastels – and they’re absolutely chuffed that Stephen Pastel is now following them on Twitter. They also cite Quentin Tarantino as an influence.

Filmed while they toured Britain back in April, this is their new single I Only Bought It For The Bottle and very good it is too, in fact, I think they’re the best thing to come out of Halifax since John Noakes. Maybe better!


For more on The Orielles: https://www.facebook.com/theorielles/

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Concubine & Big New Prinz

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As someone who was very fond of the music of Casual Sex, I was pleased to hear that three former members of the band – Chris, Samuel and Pete – have reconvened in a new act named I. Solar. Well, it makes search queries a lot easier, doesn’t it?

The sound of I. Solar is not surprisingly related to that of Casual Sex, retaining that 1980ish feel that instantly makes me think back to nights spent in Glasgow clubs like Maestro’s and the Ultratheque.

Signed to Little Tiger Records, a new independent student run label based in Busby, they’ll be playing their first ever show at Glasgow bar The Hug and Pint on April 28 with support from labelmates Fenella who impressed when they were on the bill at Vic Godard & the Subway Sect’s Club Left show at the CCA last year.

With a video directed by Chris McCrory, this is Concubine, the debut single from I. Solar:

This week saw Mark Edward Smith celebrate his sixtieth birthday which gives me a good excuse to feature some Fall. Not that any excuses for that are really necessary.

What can be said about The Fall mainstay that hasn’t been said before?

Well BBC Music Twitter account came up with a new one, erroneously announcing a few days ago that the Manc music legend had croaked it.

Of course, reports of his death were much exaggerated.

I am Kurious, Orange

Length-wise, The Fall did enjoy a just about unparallelled spell in its longevity as one of Britain’s most exciting and innovative bands from the late 1970s right up till fairly recently. I’ve seen the band live many, many times over the years, sometimes their shows have been fantastic, sometimes frustrating. Very frustrating.

The first Brix era is my own highpoint for The Fall and their Barrowlands show from 1988 was definitely one of their better shows. From this era comes this this – with a great stomping intro, Smith’s trademark pub drunk bark and a video featuring Aberdonian punk ballet star Michael Clark (that’s him in the wig), this is Big New Prinz, the opener on the 1988 album I Am Kurious, Oranj:


For more on The Fall, click here and for more on Little Tiger Records, here you go