Saturday, March 27, 2010

From the Archives - Dave Simpson author of The Fallen

Songs To Learn And Sing - Dave Simpson author of The Fallen

Photo: Dave Simpson's The Fallen

From the Archives: I Interviewed Dave for the show upon the publication of The Fallen in 2009. We'd a great chat about his quest to track down all the ex-members of The Fall. I amused Dave with my own MES encounter, which involved operating a slide projector for a Fall gig in 1997. I shall now divulge the full story. 

I was involved in the promotion of a Fall gig in Cork in 1997. We spotted that they were playing Dublin, contacted the band's agent through the Mean Fiddler and Alan Fadd from Freakscene guaranteed the fee. We were on. The Fall hadn't played Cork in years so we were pretty confident the gig could breakeven. We were huge fans and did everything we could to coerce people into buying tickets - for weeks before  the gig, every Wednesday and Friday night, we hooked up a TV playing a Fall video at the ticketbox where people queued to get into Sir Henry's. We were faxed the PA and monitor-mix specifications from the band's agent and were completely freaked out by the cost of everything. John Robb's Gold Blade played in The Lobby a few weeks before the gig and their sound engineer also worked with The Fall, so he simply looked over the PA spec and crossed off loads of unnecessary equipment. It saved a fortune. We were so thrilled to be putting on a gig by The Fall we even got Jim Comic to print up laminated passes for us. We thought this was hilariously un-Fall like and it still remains my favourite piece of gig memorabilia.

Laminated Pass: The Fall - Sir Henry's, Cork 1997

On the day of the gig I had to chaperone MES and Julia Nagle from Sir Henry's over the Grand Parade and down the South Mall to RTE's studio where Uaneen Fitzsimons was waiting to interview him for No Disco. To this day I still have no idea what MES was saying to me on our 10-minute stroll around town. During soundcheck MES asked us if they could use a slide projector - Tommy Crooks, The Fall's guitarist, had a load of slides with him. They wanted me to simply project the slides behind the band during the gig. I remember putting the slides into the projector's tray and asking MES what order he wanted them projected in: "suit yerself, our kid thinks he's an artist" came the retort.  

The gig itself wasn't without insident - MES walked off, followed by the band, one or two songs in. I remember running backstage to see what was going on. MES was at one end of the room and the rest of the band were at the far end. Steve Hanley looked at me and even though nothing was said, the look he gave me was really reassuring, I knew things would be OK but I also knew that I had to get out and leave them to it. They returned to the stage a few minutes later and continued the set. It was a good gig.

Ticket Stub: The Fall - Sir Henry's, Cork 1997

Afterwards over a few scoops of Beamish, MES asked what I thought of the gig. Feeling disapointed that they hadn't played some of my favourite tracks and courageous with drink, I answered honestly, that I thought the gig was good but had expected more. MES looked at me and said, "but it's The Fall!" At the time I thought he was being a pretentious prat, now looking back on it I think he was right. He's uncompromising with a steely determination to push things forward, doesn't pander to fan's expectations and keeps surprising us. A new album, Your Future Our Clutter is coming in a few weeks on Domino - it's The Fall!

Steve Hanley, Tommy Crooks and Karl Burns would all leave The Fall after a New York gig at Brownies the following April. Their stories and those of the other Fallen are all in Simpson's book. If you even have a passing interest in the band I can wholeheartedly recommend it. As for MES he simply regrouped and went on to release some cracking albums in the last few years including Fall Heads Roll and Reformation Post TLC. They've also returned to Ireland on several ocasions to play live. Below the flyers you can download or listen to the Dave Simpson interview.

Flyer: The Fall - Redbox, Dublin 2001 

Flyer: The Fall - Temple Bar Music Centre, Dublin 2001

Flyer: The Fall - Autumn Tour, 2001

Episode 289

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 289

Photo: Chris Dedrick's Be Free (AKA Wishes) - Anthology Recordings

This episode features a few tracks from Chris Dedrick's Be Free album. Confusingly my own copy of this lost gem is entitled Wishes and was reissued by Beatball Records in South Korea in 2005. In the lexicon of "lost" albums this has to be right up there. The album went unrealeased for over 30 years. Chris has said that his own daughter had never heard these songs until 2000.

Photo: Chris Dedrick's Wishes (AKA Be Free) - Beatball Records

Chris Dedrick and his brother and sisters had moved from Buffalo, NY to New York City in 1966. Calling themselves The Free Design they eventually signed a deal with Enoch Light's Project 3 Records. Kites Are Fun their debut album was released in 1967 and  by 1971 they had released five more albums. Chris was approached by a friend of his who wanted to manage him and they decided it was a good idea for Chris to record a solo record. Anyone expected another Free Design record will be in for a surprise. Its most obvious differences to the work of The Free Design is that it doesn't have dense vocal arrangements and Chris was free to experiment with instrumentation. The standout track for me is Wishes, a beautiful track about longing to be out of New York City and back in Canada. The record was recorded in Toronto and Chris relocated permanently to Canada in 1972. Chris and his business partner failed to sell the album to a record label and Chris reconvened with his siblings to record one more Free Design album, There is a Song. After that The Free Design broke up and Chris concentrated on composing and arranging for film and television. He won a Genie award for his original score to Guy Maddin's The Saddest Music In The World.

The Free Design - Light My Fire (from One By One, 1971)

Photo: Channel One's Sound To Light

This episode also featured two tracks from Channel One's rather brilliant Sound To Light album. Released late last year the album builds on the fantastic Permissions EP from a few years back and mixes a load of sounds to great effect: electronica, Krautrock rhythms and layered guitars. They played a blinding show last weekend in the Button Factory.

Episode 289 25/03/10
Shearwater - Black Eyes
The Decemberists - We Both Go Down Together
The Unthanks - Because He Was A Bonny Lad (playing Whelan's 28 March)
Patrick Kelleher - Wintertime's Doll
Patrick Kelleher - Finds You (Thread Pulls remix) (You Look Colder, remix album launched UpstairsWhelan's 16 April)
Villagers - On A Sunlit Stage (playing Harmonic, Marquee, Cork with Grizzy Bear, Midlake and Camera Obscura Marquee, 25 June)
Channel One - Soubresaut
Channel One - Retrace
Lone Wolf - Keep Your Eyes On The Road (playing The Academy 27 March)
Stornaway - I Saw You Blink
Field Music - In The Mirror
Field Music - Them That Do Nothing
On No Ono - Swim
Galaxie 500 - Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste
Galaxie 500 - Snowstorm
John Grant - Sigourney Weaver
Gonjasufi - Kobwebz
Chris Dedrick - Someday
Chris Dedrick - Wishes
Grosvenor - Taxi From The Airport
Malachai - Snowflake
Sone Institute - Plane Sailing Song
Pearly Gate Music - Big Escape
Happy Birthday - Subliminal Message
She & Him - Don't Look Back
Elisa Luu - Slowbeat
Caribou - Found Out
Cults - The Curse 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Episode 288

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 288

Photo: Alex Chilton at Ardent Studios

A few years ago when I set up a Myspace page for the radio show, the first video clip I embedded was The Letter, I love that song. Alex Chilton who died yesterday at the age of 59 was only 16 when he sang: “Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane, Ain't got time to take a fast train.” His gravelly voice was fantastic. Big Star is one of my favourite bands. Four years ago I bought 180g vinyl reissues of #1 Record and Radio City from Spindizzy Records in Dublin. I remember getting home and being all excited about playing the vinyl even though I know these records for years. I pulled out the inner sleeve of #1 Record and knew immediately that I was holding the wrong piece of vinyl. The shop assistant had inserted another customer’s records into my Big Star sleeves. Now while I have to admit that I quite liked the trance 12"s I’d been mistakenly sold, all I could think about was what would the other customer’s reaction be to the opening strains of Chris Bell’s Feel or Chilton’s Balled of El Goodo. I rang the shop to sort out the mistake and was told the other guy was none too pleased. This episode features some of my favourite Alex Chilton songs.  

Shearwater's The Golden Archipelago (Matador Records)

This episode also featured two tracks from the brilliant new album from Shearwater. This is an absolutely gorgeous album which reminds me of of late period Talk Talk and Midnight Choir.

Livin' Love - The Feminine Complex's 1969 album

We finished this episode with three tracks from The Feminine Complex's Livin' Love album. The Nashville all-girl group sole album is a lost 60s masterpiece, a true cult classic. Tennbeat's reissue is full of extras, well worth checking out for fans of skewed 60s pop.  

Episode 288 18/03/10
Lawrence Arabia - The Crew of the Commodore
The Loves - Sweet Sister Delia

Alex Chilton Tribute
The Boxtops - The Letter
Big Star - The Ballad of El Goodo
Big Star - Jesus Christ
Big Star - Thirteen
Big Star - Setember Gurls
Alex Chilton - Hey Little Girl
Teenage Fanclub - Free Again (Alex Chilton cover)

"Free again, to do what I wanna do
Free again, to sing my song again
Free again, to air my longing,
To be out on my own again"
RIP Alex Chilton

Scout Nibblett - Cherry Cheek Bomb
Owen Pallett - The Great Elsewhere (playing Whelan's March 19)
Love is All - Give It Back
Caribou - Leave House
Cults - Go Outside
Dum Dum Girls - It Only Takes One Night
Dum Dum Girls - Blank Girl
The Adult Net - Take Me
Taxi Taxi - Standing At Your Back Door
The Unthanks - Lucky Gilchrist (playing Whelan's March 28)
Recoil - Faith Healer
Sone Institute - French Woods
Catriona Irving - Sitting On the Shelf Without Shelly (Plaisir De France remix)
Shearwater - Black Eyes
Shearwater - Meridian
The Besnard Lakes - Chicago Train
Titus Andronicus - A More Perfect Union
The Feminine Complex - Hide and Seek
The Feminine Complex - Are You Lonesome Like Me
The Feminine Complex - I've Been Workin' On You

Shearwater's Hidden Lakes

Monday, March 15, 2010

Willy Vlautin and Dan Eccles - Radio Session & Interview

Songs To Learn And Sing - Willy Vlautin and Dan Eccles (Interview and Radio Session)

Photo: Willy and Dan - Upstairs Whelan's, March 13, 2010

Richmond Fontaine's Willy Vlautin and Dan Eccles came up to Dublin City FM on March 9 to record a radio session for Songs To Learn And Sing. The lads recorded five tracks for us: three from their latest album We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded Like a River, one from Thirteen Cities and a track called Alison Johnson about Northline's (Willy's second novel) main charcater. The tracks sound great and are all introduced below by Willy. The lads headed off on an Irish tour and got back to Dublin for two shows Upstairs at Whelan's on Saturday night.

Radio Session: Listen to tracks below (with introductions from Willy)

Willy Vlautin and Dan Eccles - The Boyfriends

Willy Vlautin and Dan Eccles - Maybe We Were Both Born Blue

Willy Vlautin and Dan Eccles - Alison Johnson

Willy Vlautin - St Ides, Parked Cars and other people's Homes

Willy Vlautin and Dan Eccles - Two Alone

Friday, March 12, 2010

From the Archives - A Hawk and a Hacksaw Interview

Songs to Learn and Sing - A Hawk and a Hacksaw Interview

Photo: A Hawk and a Hacksaw (Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost)

From the Archives: A Hawk and a hacksaw have had some bad luck with gigs in Dublin. They were supposed to play their debut Dublin concert in October 2005 but the gig was cancelled. Jeremy and Heather were hanging around town so we went to Neary's pub and over a few scoops had a good chat about their travels in Eastern Europe and the album Darkness at Noon. The Dublin gig may have been pulled but both Jeremy and Heather still couldn't believe their luck, travelling around the world bringing their music to a new audience. "I sometimes feel like we’re the freaks who’ve been accepted," laughed Jeremy. We chatted about the beginnings of AHAAH, their home town of Albuquerque, Jeremy's old band Neutral Milk Hotel and European folk music. Jeremy and Heather were two really friendly people, they were disappointed with the news that their gig was cancelled and I think they'd have played anywhere if someone had offered them the opportunity.

Photo: AHAAH live (photo from Hi-Fi Popcorn

Dublin fans would have to wait until November 2008 to finally witness AHAAH live. They returned to the city on a bill with Beirut and Calexico for a gig in the Olympia. It was worth the wait. Live AHAAH are completely unique in terms of the sound Jeremy and Heather can create. Jeremy plays drums and accordian and Heather plays the violin. Jeremy also wears a hat with a drumstick taped to it so that he can crash a cymbal with his head. It may sound gimmicky but in full flight they sound amazing.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Episode 287

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 287

Photo: Dan Eccles (holding "The Champ") and Willy Vlautin pictured in Dublin City FM

This episode featured a radio session from Richmond Fontaine's Willy Vaultin and Dan Eccles. The guys came into the studio up in Dublin City FM, set up three radio mics and off they went. The tracks are raw but sound great. Dan's guitar playing is beautiful, his little amp "The Champ" did its job! They played five tracks for us, and Willy chatted about Richmond Fontaine's latest album We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded Like a River. We also chatted about Northline, Willy's second novel and the guys played Alison Johnson, a lovesong named after Nothline's main character. Lean on Pete, Willy's third novel has just been published by Fabor and Fabor. Willy talked about the novel's setting, Portland Meadows Racetrack, where he likes to people watch and write. A lot of literary critics tend to class all Willy's characters as white trash no-hopers, Willy sees them as regular people, the people he knows and understands. On the way back into town, Taxi drivers were demonstrating and blocking traffic, so apart from getting stuck on the quays for 90 minutes it was a nice evening. Willy and Dan play two shows in Whelan's this Saturday, March 13. The interview and radio session will be podcasted at a later date.      

Ticket Stub: Sparklehorse in Whelan's, 1998

This episode also paid tribute to Mark Linkous from Sparklehorse, who sadly passed away last weekend. Willy Vlautin remembered seeing the band play a great show in Portland in the late 90s when Mark was in a wheelchair. I saw the band twice over the years. I moved to Dublin in September 1998 and the band's show in Whelan's a few weeks later was the first gig I went to in the city. Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot had made a huge impression on me a few years earlier and like many others this gig remains one of my all time favourites. Sparklehorse were absolutely stunning on the night. I'd been in college with a guy and years later we realised that we'd both been in attendance at this gig. "Were you at that gig?" "Yeah!" We just shared a knowing smile. We didn't need to dissect the night. The ticket stub from the gig is above. Neutral Milk Hotel (Neutral Milk Honey on the ticket stub), even though on the tour, didn't make the Dublin gig. Never one to let a nice flyer pass me by I also grabbed the Sick of Goodbyes flyer from the venue on the night. it's reproduced below. I saw Sparklehorse 8 years later, again in Whelan's, when they toured the Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain album, it was another stunning performance. I played Someday I Will Treat You Good about 10 times on Sunday and just couldn't believe the news. Mark Linkous RIP.   

Flyer (front): Sparklehorse - Sick of Goodbyes, 1998

Flyer (back): Sparklehorse - Sick of Goodbyes, 1998

Episode 287 - 11/03/10
Willy Vlautin Interview
Willy Vlautin & Dan Eccles - The Boyfriends (radio session)
Willy Vlautin & Dan Eccles - Maybe We Were Both Born Blue (radio session)
Willy Vlautin & Dan Eccles - Alsion Johnson (radio session)
Willy Vlautin - St Ides, Parked Cars and Other People's Homes (radio session)
Willy Vlautin & Dan Eccles - Two Alone (radio session)

Mark Linkous Tribute
Sparklehorse - Someday I Will Treat You Good
Sparklehorse & Fennesz - Mark's Guitar Piece
Sparklehorse - More Yellow Birds
Dangermouse & Sparklehorse - Dark Night of the Soul (feat. Vic Chesnutt)
Sparklehorse - Happy Man (Memphis version)
Sparklehorse - Cow

Vowels - Two Wires
Vessels - An Idle Brain and the Devil's Workshop (Errors' remix)
Patrick Kelleher - Finds You (Thread Pulls remix) (playing with Channel One, The Button Factory, Mar 19)
Antoni Maiovvi - The Chase Pt1
Recoil - Edge of Life
Vindicatrix - A Long Straight Road In a Cold City
Home Video - Citizen
Jonny Trunk - Crank Two
Hexicon - Something Strange Beneath the Stars
Get Well Soon - 5 Steps 7 Swords
Power of Dreams - The Joke's On Me (playing Whelan's Mar 14)
Power of Dreams - Stay

Friday, March 05, 2010

From the Archives - Ken Stringfellow of The Posies

Songs To Learn And Sing - Ken Stringfellow of The Posies

Photo: Ken Stringfellow

From the Archives: The Posies played Whelan's, Dublin on July 21, 2005. It was a great show and the new tracks from Every Kind of Light sounded fantastic. Earlier that day I chatted to Ken Stringfellow about his relationship with bandmate Jon Auer and the writing and recording of Every Kind of Light. We also chatted about Ken's contribution to When  I Pretend to Fall, the 2003 album by John Roderick's The Long Winters, playing live with REM and singing harmonies with Mike Mills.

The recording sessions for Every Kind of Light were interspersed with sessions for both REM's Around the Sun  and Big Star's In Space. Ken admits that it all got a bit crazy, "It was insane, I was in Seattle working on my thing one day, and then I'd go to the Bahamas to work with REM and Memphis to work with Big Star. I went to South by Southwest to play with Big Star and then back to Seattle. It was quite an amazing few months." I asked Ken had the guys from REM been interested to know how the Big Star sessions were coming along and he told me that the weird thing was that Terry Manning who runs Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas where REM were recording, had been a recording engineer at Ardent on all the early Big Star records. Things had come full circle. Ken was an absolute gentleman.

A few weeks ago Jon Auer announced that The Posies would be performing Frosting on the Beater, the band's 1993 classic third album, in its entirety at a Seattle show in April and that the band would then be flying to Spain to begin recording a new Posies album.   

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Episode 286

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 286

Photo: Section 25's Looking From A  Hilltop (1984 Factory Records)

Larry Cassidy founding member, singer and bass player of Section 25 passed away on February 27. In tribute to the man we featured two Section 25 tracks on this episode. Girls Don't Count was the band's first single released in 1980. This was followed by Always Now, the band's debut album. Always Now was produced by Martin Hanett and is a fine album but the music contained within its grooves is unfortunatley overshadowed by the stories surrounding its beautiful Peter Saville designed artwork. If you're heard the stories behind the design of the Blue Monday 12'' or the sandpaper sleeve of The Return of The Durutti Column then you might be surprised to learn that Always Now with its 'marble' effect inner sleeve was the most expensive sleeve in Factory's history.  We also played the band's classic Looking From A Hilltop from 1984. Looking From A Hilltop was from the band's great third album From the Hip which was produced by the band and Bernard Sumner. Jenny Ross, Larry's wife was now in the band and provides vocals on this classic track. Jenny sadly passed away in 2004 after a long battle with cancer. The Blackpool band were often dismissed as mere Joy Division copyists but they were so much more. 

Photo: Shadowplayers - Factory Records and manchester Post-Punk 1978-1981 (LTM Recordings)

James Nice's feature length documentary Shadowplayers is a brilliant film which interviews all the main Factory players and features contributions from Larry and his brother Vin. Shadowplayers is a great companion piece to the films 24 Hour Party People, Control and Grant Gee's 2007 Joy Division documentary. If you've never heard Looking From A Hilltop check out the video below.

Photo: Rollerskate Skinny's Shoulder Voices (1993 Placebo Records)

This episode also featured two tracks from Shoulder Voices, Rollerskate Skinny's debut album. Whilst Horsedrawn Wishes is rightly regarded as being one of the greatest Irish records of all time, I think this leads people to forget how wonderful its predecessor actually is. Rollerskate Skinny were a shambolic live band at the time but once they kicked into Bow Hitch-Hiker they sounded bloody amazing. Shoulder Voices is essential listening. 

Episode 286 - 04/03/2010
John Cale - Verses
Prolapse - Doorstop Rhythmic Block
Field Music - In The Mirror
Field Music - The Wheels Are In Place
Adrian Crowley - The Beekeeper's Wife
Adrian Crowley - Girl From the Estuary
Adrian Crowley - Capricorn
Adrian Crowley - Long Distance Swimmer
Vowels - Two Wires
Allo Darlin' - Dreaming
Section 25 - Girls Don't Count (RIP Larry Cassidy)
Section 25 - Looking From a Hilltop (RIP Larry Cassidy)
On No Ono - Eleanor Speaks
Catriona Irving - Sitting On the Shelf Without Shelly
Sone Institute - The Wind Began to Switch
The Primitives- Really Stupid
The Runaways - Cherrybomb
Quincy Jones - In Cold Blood (Main Theme)
Mazarin - For Energy Infinite
Rollerskate Skinny - Bow Hitch-Hiker (from Shoulder Voices)
Rollerskate Skinny - Miss Leader (from Shoulder Voices)
Antoni Maiovvi - Nightmoves
Linsndstrom & Christabelle - Music in My Mind
Gavin Friday/Man Seezer - Rags to Riches
Flunk - Blue Monday
Dead Man's Bones - In the Room Where You Sleep
Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM