Saturday, 18 November 2017

Sun Rose and L Space at Nice n Sleazy

Last night I caught two stunning bands in the basement of Nice n Sleazy, both blew me away.

I introduced L-Space in a previous blog. I was really looking forward to seeing them live and they didn't disappoint. Singer Lily wore a headband that lit up and started the set kneeling in front of a tiny keyboard at the front of the stage, picking out a beautiful melody, covered by an umbrella that also lit up. Her band mates created a beautiful wall of noise to back her up.

The 4-piece were refreshingly different to any band I have seen in Glasgow in a while. Gordon Johnstone played some brilliant riffs and melodies on guitar, before at times unleashing some ferocious white noise. Synth player Maura Keane looked super cool, creating some great sounds, whilst bassist Dickson Teller kept the groove.

Blue Flowers was a highlight for me as I've really fallen for that song, but in truth the whole set was incredibly impressive and there were knowing nods from the people around me that we were witnessing a band with huge potential. The crowd responded with increasing applause and hours after each song. A great set.

Sun Rose were launching their debut LP The Essential Luxury by playing their first ever show after a grand total of four rehearsals. The album was created by Albert Kawmi, Calum Muir and Gus Wemyss between Glasgow and Manchester, with emails playing an important role.

The trio gradually pieced together a stunning album full of inventive beats, breaks, layers, sounds, melodies and harmonies. With no band name, social media or gigs to concern themselves with, this gave them an almost unique freedom in todays day and age to take their time.

I'll be blogging about the sublime and blissful album in the very near future. What were they like live?

The trio became a 6-piece for the night; lining up with Calum and Gus playing back to back synths, Albert on bongos, maracas and very occasional synth, backed by guitar, bass and drums.

What a treat! The band played superbly. Albert told us how it was his first live show in 4-years. He looked confident and full of joy. Calum and Gus looked deep in concentration, playing synths, getting involved in funky percussion and both complimented Albert superbly with harmonies and backing vocals. Their band mates looked delighted to be playing to a packed Sleazys and to be involved in creating such sublime music live.

Debut single Smirk gave us an indication of the style and capabilities of Sun Rose live. They were on it - funky, sublime and able to recreate the layers and changes in pace that they beautifully offer on their album,

Dry In The Water was outstanding; surging upwards, dropping back to almost nothing before soaring sky high and taking the audience on a journey with them.

Second single Minima was blissful and the band had the confidence not only to sing a song in Arabic but to also drop in a cover version of The Pointer Sisters Automatic.

Singer Albert was quick to thank the band, their friend who drove them to and from Manchester, the audience and then his wife Lynsey who was celebrating her birthday. The audience sing song was followed by Albert coming into the audience for a kiss. There was a collective awwwww, a nice touch as Albert when back on stage and told us of how he broke the news to Lynsey that they were launching the album on her birthday.

The band ended their set with Counting Upwards, the beautiful closing number from their album. They got lost in the gorgeous sounds they were producing and there is a section where things just build to a euphoric mantra.

There was no encore. Just grateful thanks to the audience and to Last Night From Glasgow who Albert said the album and gig wouldn't have happened without.

What will they do next? Will they play again? A packed Sleazys will hope so. And for any festival promoters reading this - get them booked. Blissful, funky and euphoric.

Album review to follow. Check it on Spotify HERE or order vinyl HERE

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Introducing L Space

Photo by ChumChi

The older I get, the harder it becomes for a new young band to get me really excited. Or it could just be that although there may be countless new bands and not that many of them are actually very good or exciting! It’s probably a bit of both.

I mean, do I need to go searching like I used to when I already have access to so much music I love and the fact that it is easier than ever to explore back catalogues of bands/artists of years gone by?

Of course I do! I’m always looking for new music to fall in love with, I will forever chase the buzz of falling head over heels for a new band that are breaking or just waiting to break through.

Anyway, I’ve found a new band that I’ve fallen for. They are pretty brand new, although they have already put out an incredible amount of music through 2017. L Space are the band in question. Gordon Johnstone, Lily Higham, Dickson Telfer and Maura Keane span the Central belt of Scotland and come together to ‘write music about the future using big synths, dreamy guitar and ethereal vocals’ and their Facebook describes them as dream pop, electronic and cinematic.

L Space have released 11-songs to date through 2017 via a series of digital (to my knowledge) EP’s and singles. The quality more than matches the quantity.

I chose Blue Flowers to check out first as I liked the title and I fell for it on first listen; think Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval fronting Portishead.

Photo by Brendan Waters

But there is so much more – this is not a band who find a formula and stick with it, this is a band looking to utilise the sounds at their disposal and the wonderful voice of Lily Higham. Brother Mars is an acoustic comedown gem that those of my generation could compare to early Beth Orton – sublime.

Space Junk meets their dream pop, electronic and cinematic biog head on, whispered vocals that rise with ease, changes in pace and beats at all the right moments and building to a glorious and euphoric conclusion.

When it all just gets too much
I can drift off, drift off, drift off
I am living like space junk

Southern Reach is a dark and menacing instrumental, dropping to a bubbling synth and sampled vocal. Propaganda sounds like a companion piece, with huge beats introduced to dramatic effect halfway through. Carry Armour has drum n bass beats with more sampled voices and a cinematic feel, while Escape V4.1 and So It Goes are hauntingly beautiful.

The band seem incredibly creative with their beats, layers, soundscapes and melodies and I can’t wait to see them live. In the meantime check a Spotify playlist of their releases to date and an interview with the band below.

Photo by ChumChi

How did L Space form? Where and when?

Lily: L-space formed gradually in the prebiotic pools of various workplaces and arts events. Gordon I met when we both needed to glue our shoes together at work, Dickson I met through his spoken word and writing (check it out) and Gordon knew him through his work with The Grind, and Maura I met in a world of unending noodles at the restaurant we worked at. We glooped together and good music came out.

Where did the name come from?

Lily: The name is based on an alternate dimension in the Discworld series of books by Terry Pratchett. Because knowledge = power, and books contain a lot of knowledge, they warp space and time, creating another dimension. You can access the dimension through places like libraries and book shops where there are large amounts of books, and when you enter you can see bookshelves stretch off endlessly in all directions. In Terry P's words "[a] good bookshop is just a genteel blackhole that knows how to read." Basically, I like books and I like physics, so this name is cool.

Did you have a vision for what the band would sound like then? If not, how quickly did you arrive at ‘your sound’?

Lily: I had some vision: I wanted to write beautiful, interesting, noisy music with a mixture of electronic elements and 'real' instruments, creating a retrofuturistic sound while not being too cold and digital. But most of our sound came together naturally from the combination of the band's talents and influences. For example, in my case, I read a lot of sci-fi and like to read about future technologies that will make our world better, so those themes often make their way into my lyrics. Also my voice seems physiologically fixed to have a particular sound to it, and I am working with that sound and its limitations and qualities to find melodies and tones that fit our visions.

Gordon: I think I always had a clearer idea of what I didn't want us to be more than what I thought we would sound like. I definitely didn't want us to be another guitar band or a soulless electronic group. It's important to me that people know there's a very human heart to our songs even when the music is largely created on synths and tackles fairly futuristic topics. Many of the songs start as fairly abstract soundscapes and become fully formed songs when we add bass and vocals, so our sound is somewhere between the two extremes.

Dickson: With writing most of our music on synths and having Lily as our singer, we always knew we were going to have an ethereal sound. Then we added groove and noise and . . . ta-dah!

Maura: Gordon and Lily have been the main masterminds of the sound, but I think we're always trying new things and looking for different influences.

You have released 11-songs already. How do you go about creating/writing? Where do you record?

Lily: Sometimes we write together, building up songs from a base idea that one of us has come up with, but other times we are a very modern band that does most writing separately and sends each other our recordings electronically. Praise to our great internet lord. We record most of the synths at home and record the vocals and instruments at Homegrown Productions studio on a farm in Larbert. We have good fun recording there and it has the benefits of a resident cat and dog. However, one time the cattle escaped and we had to wait until the cows came home before we could finish! When I write a song alone at home I usually start off messing around on my guitar or with beats and sounds on my computer and humming along to find a melody I like. Then I record it terribly on my phone and send it to the others.

Gordon: I usually start with one synth tone, or one chord, I like and build from there. It's not unusual for our songs to have forty or fifty layers on them, but usually we strip a lot of them out when everyone adds their various parts. I love densely layered production like El-P and 65daysofstatic and I think that shapes our music a lot. One of my pet hates is when a song doesn't have an identifiable "good bit", so the music I write almost always builds to a climax or some kind of crescendo. 

Dickson: Usually Gordon writes the skeleton and then we all jump in, bringing our own thing to the party.

Maura: Gordon is always coming to us with new songs and ideas - you can't stop him writing songs. I think it's amazing to work with people who have so much to give musically and are so creative, very exciting and inspiring for the future.

The releases to date highlight quality and quantity. Are you always creating new sounds and songs? Is that important for you?

Lily: I am always coming up with new ideas for songs. It happens when I'm playing around with my guitar or noises on the computer, or it might just happen while I'm walking somewhere or in the shower. I even dream songs sometimes! Many ideas get lost as I don't record them before I forget them, but if I can I try to remember them in some way so we can use them for future songs. It is important for me to always have this creative output as it gives me a feeling of purpose and value.

Gordon: Constantly creating things means the world to me. Since L-space started I've realised that I'm exceptionally difficult to work with sometimes. I've got this compulsion where I can't stop creating music and I constantly want to release it and put it out into the world, but that doesn't always sit comfortably with a band moving at a sensible pace. I pushed us all quite hard for a few months to release a lot of music and do a lot of shows and it payed off when Last Night from Glasgow signed us. Now we can take our time with the album, be pickier with our gigs, and generally enjoy the creation process a lot more!

Dickson:  Yes. It's a good disease.

What have been your highlights from 2017?

Lily: It's hard to choose! One highlight was playing at MugStock festival in the pouring rain while Dickson's dog Dasher ran on stage and while most people were sheltering, two people were dancing in the rain in front of the stage and having a great time. It was nice to see them enjoying it, and for us it was an unusual and memorable experience. Also dog.

Gordon: For me I think it was when Last Night from Glasgow told us they wanted to release our album. It was the culmination of months of hard work and a lifetime's ambition. Knowing that we have a goal and a purpose, that a group of people believe in what we were doing enough to put their name behind it, means the world to me. In terms of the music itself I think it was when we played at a small show for a sci-fi magazine called Shoreline of Infinity. It felt like we turned a corner in terms of our performance and how we were received.

Dickson: Playing a street corner as part of the Merchant City festival and going down well. Also, listening to the final mix of Aloe on Elie beach. I had recorded my bass and then gone on holiday while the others did their thing. It was really cool watching the waves and listening to our latest creation at the same time (cos usually first listen is in the studio)

Maura: I loved playing the Merchant City Festival in the summer, playing outside right on the street and being really noisy. Releasing our single Aloe and getting signed by Last Night From Glasgow are up there too!

So you’ve essentially released an albums worth of songs. But you’re now working on your first album. Will that effect how you approach things and the way you write/create? E.g. will it be written to flow together, or will it be business as normal and anything goes?

Lily: We have all our songs written separately, but I think because they have been written in quite a short space of time, they have all been created from the same kind of 'zone' of ideas and phase of our music writing. The themes of the songs are mostly looking forward to a utopian future and so far I think they all have the L-space sound to them. Because of this, the songs sound like they go together, and all that is left is to put them in an order that most keeps the listener engaged, and with songs next to each other that enhance each other.

Gordon: I think because we have a fairly good idea of how we want to sound the songs will sound pretty coherent. The songs have all been written fairly recently, but some of the ideas on the albums are things I've had rattling around since I was 16 and it has taken L-space to make them work and sound how they should. The overarching theme of a better future is something I think will always underpin our music.

Dickson: There are always plenty songs. We're re-working a couple but the rest are new and fresh, and cool, and noisy, and lovely.

What music are you enjoying at present?

Lily: 65daysofstatic, Julien Baker, The Twilight Sad, Bjork's newest album and the Cocteau Twins record given to me by our record label Last Night from Glasgow.

Gordon: Tusks, The Samuel Jackson 5, Tom Waits, Run the Jewels, Deltron 3030, Lana Del Rey

Dickson: Sun Rose, Agnes Obel, Bicep, Public Service Broadcasting

Maura: I'm listening to lots of electronic music right now, I saw Sylvan Esso live the other night, the energy was amazing. I'm enjoying discovering a Japanese artist called Shintaro Sakamoto who is more 70s pop-rock.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Baby I Need Your Loving

Motown Monthly #2

How good a song is this? The urgency is immediate, you get a sense of it from the title alone. This isn't someone dreaming, wishing, wanting or longing for a love. This is someone needing it, someone who has got to have it all.

I've always loved this song but it took on a whole new meaning for me when I heard it at the Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom at the annual Barraloadasoul event a couple of years ago. It came blasting out of the speakers in mid-evening after an impassioned intro from the DJ. He raised his hands in the air singing a-long and the crowd responded accordingly.

Research has just told me that this is in fact the debut single by The Four Tops. In that case it is surely one of the best debut singles of all time!

It is a Holland-Dozier-Holland special and the group formed a special affinity with the master songwriters thanks to their love of lead singer Levi Stubbs incredible vocal range. They deliberately wrote for him to push his vocals to the extreme and between 1964-1967 they crafted gems like Reach Out I'll Be There, Bernadette and Standing In The Shadows Of Love.

In under 3-minutes H-D-H create the ultimate plea for love. This song has everything, the musicianship is impeccable and it turns out that H-D-H had the music before the words. And oh what words, simple but devastatingly effective. And oh with those lead vocals and the sensational backing vocals.... the impact is quite incredible.

Just listen to the oooh backing vocals during the last verse that then change to i need you and i want you baby. And when the four voices combine it just sounds so soulful and sublime.

Lonely nights echo your name
Oh sometimes I wonder
Will I ever be the same
You know things have gotten worse
Any smile you might see has all been rehearsed
Darling I can't go on without you
This emptiness won't let me live without you
This loneliness inside darling
Makes me feel half alive

Baby I need your lovin'
Got to have all your lovin'

Monday, 6 November 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 16

The latest section of the mixtape is wildly eclectic; taking in the pure pop euphoria of Robyn, a crazy song title by Nina Simone, a song by Bob Dylan that I hadn't heard before (well he has plenty!), a couple of cool cover versions, a little nod to David Holmes, some beauties by Death In Vegas, the giants of Marley, Hendrix and Brown and plenty more besides.

I add to the Never Ending Mixtape, my Spotify playlist on a monthly basis and blog about it here. There are now almost 350 songs on the playlist; dig in and enjoy. You'll need to scroll down to play the latest additions that are listed below.

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape or click HERE.


Dancing On My Own - Robyn
Shhhhh (For A Little While) - James Brown
Cissy Strut - The Meters
Dancing Drums - Ananda Shankar
Crosstown Traffic - Jimi Hendrix
Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter - Nina Simone
Higher Ground - Ellen McIlwaine
Tom Cat - Muddy Waters
Holiday Girl - Arab Strap (David Holmes remix)
Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart - Dusty Springfield
Sacrilege - Yeah Yeah Yeah's
Little Green Bag - George Baker Selection
The Man In Me - Bob Dylan
Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) - Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
I Heard Wonders (Andrew Weatherall mix) - David Holmes
69 Police - David Holmes
23 Lies - Death In Vegas w/ Susan Dilate
Help Yourself - Death In Vegas w/ Hope Sandoval
Could You Be Loved - Bob Marley

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Nick Cave at the Glasgow Hydro

At the end of September my social media feeds were awash with reports of Nick Cave giving an exceptional performance in Glasgow. I posted and tweeted that I'd be happy to accept a guest review and John Welsh kindly responded...only I didn't notice the email until much later!

Sorry for the delay John, but this is a great blog and you are very welcome to write for Everything Flows again in the future.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Glasgow Hydro 27 September 2017

Photo by Rachel McLean

Let’s cut to the chase. A substandard Nick Cave gig is as rare as hen’s teeth and on this effort the prodigious Antipodean certainly didn’t disappoint.  

Kicking off with a trio of songs from the most recent studio album, Skeleton Tree, it was an understated beginning to the gig, the melodies of Anthrocene, Jesus Alone and Magneto almost muted and ethereal in their delivery.

Any question marks about how the Bad Seeds intricate sound would come across in the huge arena environment were quickly dispelled form the start. Indeed, the wider space and scope worked well, with multi instrumentalist and Cave’s partner in crime, Warren Ellis driving the band forward to increasing heights of musical ingenuity.

Higgs Bosom Blues and From Her To Eternity saw the band and Cave break out, the latter cinematic in its elegance, and at times violently brutal in its delivery. The band approached each song with equal measures of venom and subtlety, resulting in a mesmerising soundscape of riffs and soaring melodies from perhaps the world’s finest (rock) lounge band.

Red Right Hand, against a sleazy, crimson backdrop which wouldn’t have looked out of place in an episode of Twin Peaks was well received, guitarist George Vjestica sliding rhythms shining through. The hunched, menacing spectre of Cave’s lithe shadow, seemingly snaking up and around the Hydro walls merely added to the thrill.

Throughout, Cave was on fine form with quite a bit of humour evident. Leaning into the crowd at one point he commented “this is sexual harassment” as perhaps someone grabbed a bit more than was expected.  

The Weeping Song kicked off the encore, Cave wading through the crowd to deliver his sermon atop a camera gantry, before leading fans to the stage for a tumultuous Stagger Lee and the set closer Push The Sky Away.  
A triumph.



Photo by Rachel McLean

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Purple Rain

Cover version of the month #30
Kerr McCluskey covers Purple Rain by Prince

I guess my blog is kind of like a diary; logging what I am listening to at any given time and detailing some of the gigs I attend. In that sense, the October cover of the month had to document a little event that took place recently, one that will stay with me for some time.

Last week I was compere at my daughters Primary School disco. There were some truly incredible costumes there as I worked with the DJ through games to keep the kids entertained.

At the primary 4-7 disco a young guy was dressed as Prince and he came up to the stage to ask us to play a Prince song. I half-jokingly asked him if he would be up for singing. In reply he asked if I was serious, I said I was and he could sing or mime. He asked if he could get my phone to listen to Purple Rain before getting up and if he could have the words on screen.

I admired his confidence and off he went with my relatively new iPhone7. Very trusting on my part! I tracked him down 10-minutes later, after wondering if I had been too trusting, in a quiet corner near the tuck shop listening to the song. He was ready.

I got back on stage and said to the crowd that we had a very special guest, one of the biggest pop stars of all time and I introduced Prince to the stage. I still didn't know this kids real name or if he would be any good. I just like giving people a chance and this wee guy had already impressed with his attitude.

I was blown away. All of a sudden this young lad was hitting some incredible notes. The first chorus took off! When he got to the I know times are changing section he just soared. My spine was tingling and I had goosebumps as the young Prince grew more confident as the song progressed and the crowd cheered him on.

I felt like I had witnessed something genuinely special. The song finished and I discovered that our young Prince was called Kerr. I gave him a big hug and a friendly punch on the arm and told him how amazing he was.

I couldn't get his performance out of my head and the next morning asked my friend (and Halloween disco organiser Efric) if she had filmed it. Volunteers on the night came rushing in from the Tuck Shop to hear and see the performance and Efric had been taking pics. Thankfully she switched to video.

I posted the film on my Facebook and like me everyone was blown away. I've been friends with Laura Boyd from STV for a long time since her days singing in the band Pooch. Laura PM'd me and asked if STV could show the video. 

So after getting in touch with Kerr's Mum and introducing her to Laura, the video was edited, posted and tweeted by STV and is again getting a great response. Over 100,000 views!

I have to admit to getting a real buzz out of this. Kerr is pure raw sensational talent and I hope to see and hear him sing again in the near future. He'll need to get a proper video of him singing Purple Rain cause this one is a little dark!

And what can you say about Purple Rain by Prince? It is a stunning song, one that deserves a blog in its own right. But for now, just listen to this exceptional and exciting raw talent.

Previous covers of the month

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

I Wish It Would Rain

Motown Monthly 1

I've been digging into the extensive catalogue of Tamla Motown with relish and joy recently. Without wanting to mention Spotify again, they really have made it easy and addictable to explore albums, b-sides, demos and rarities.

I became acquainted with Motown at an early age courtesy of some records my Mum owned; a Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell duets album with Sheila Easton in pencil on the back sleeve just in case anyone borrowed (and forgot) or picked up the wrong copy at a party back in the Sixties or Seventies.

So I'm going to start a monthly Motown blog on certain songs, singles, artists or times. And I'm going to begin with a song by The Temptations called I Wish It Would Rain.

A short piano and bass intro leads to the piano being dropped and singer David Ruffin singing with real heartbreaking soul that wishes the sunshine and blue skies would go away cause he has lost his love.

Sunshine, blue skies, please go away
My girl has found another, and gone away
With her went my future, my life is filled with gloom
So day after day, I stay locked up in my room
I know to you it might sound strange
But I wish it would rain

It is an incredible opening verse that sets the scene and the second verse takes it a step further and at one point Ruffin sounds lost for words after stating listen, I got to cry, the ooooh before he explains that crying eases the pain is sublimely soulful and tugs on the heart strings.

Cause so badly I wanna go outside (such a lovely day)
Everyone knows that a man ain't supposed to cry
Listen, i got to cry, 'cause crying
Eases the pain, oh yeah

It just gets better, yet there is even more pain and self therapy with Ruffin singing that he longs for rain so he can go outside and hide his tears in the rain. There is no holding back the pain in the song.

Lyricist Rodger Penzabene penned the song just after learning that his wife was cheating on him. He would commit suicide barely a week after the single's release.

I need rain to disguise the tears in my eyes
I'm a man I got my pride
'til it rains I'm gonna stay inside

Producer Norman Whitfield created much of the musical structure to accompany Penzabene's heartbreaking poetry, with Barret Strong composing the piano intro on a piano with only ten working keys! The music is perfect for the song, there is real melancholic heartbreak in this record, it is stunning.

I Wish It Would Rain reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3-weeks and later be covered by Percy Sledge, Gladys Knight and the Pips and also by Marvin Gaye on the b-side of Lets Get It On.

Many, many Motown songs are about guys/girls longing for a lost love but I Wish It Would Rain may well be the most heartbreaking of the lot. It is a gem.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Wedding DJ

6-years ago my friend Jillian asked me to DJ at her wedding. I was delighted to accept. The wedding was to be held in the beautiful House for an Art Lover in Glasgow, a venue I was familiar with as it had also been the setting for my friends Phil and Mary's wedding.

Jillian and Chris' wedding was a real blur. There was a free bar and it was draft Stella. I was sharing DJ duties with a guy from France called Tony. French Tony - as there was also a Scottish Tony. He cleared the dance floor several times so the decks became mine and I played Motown, 60's beat groups, Bowie, Roxy Music and then fine pop including Madonna, Kylie, S-Express and Deee-lite. All music I loved.

Jillian and Chris also introduced me to Ruby Andrews beautiful Just Loving You as that was their first dance. What a choice! It is a cracker and I'd later be interviewed on 6music by Craig Charles on his Funk and Soul show and he marvelled at the song - he hadn't heard it before.

I must have made an impression on Jillian's sister Jules as 2-months ago she got in contact to ask if I would DJ at her wedding.

We had a couple of chats and it was clear that other than the first dance (Andy Williams - You're Just To Good To Be True), Jules and Duncan completely trusted me to get people dancing and ensure everyone had a good time. No pressure!

1st dance

I love a good wedding reception. I trusted my friend Phil to DJ at my own wedding reception, but I also met with him several times to discuss 'must plays'!

For this reception I decided against vinyl. It was to be Spotify and/or iTunes. I discovered a great little APP called DJJAY2 for only £4.99 that allows you to DJ electronically on an iPad using Spotify.  You can mix, there are effects and if you have WIFI then you have quite a catalogue at your disposal!

I have always loved dj-ing with vinyl. You can only play what you have and if you're playing a 3-minute Motown special then you have extremely limited time to select and choose your next record and get it all queued up. I have always liked the excitement of choosing one, only to get it all queued up and then change my mind and fight against time to get another one chosen and ready.

But common sense prevailed on this occasion. I decided to go digital and it definitely helped on the night as in the end I took some requests for the Gay Gordons and Dashing White Sergeant (both of which were amazing) and also ended up playing songs I hadn't included on my 200+ Spotify playlist that I had created for the evening. Why Does It Always Rain On Me by Travis was also requested as it is the family anthem and that became clear when I played it!

Other than those requests, everything I played was entirely my choice. I fretted over playing Toploader (euuugghhh) but it packed the dancefloor. I also cleared the dance floor a couple of times! It was packed for The Fratellis Chelsea Dagger so I thought I'd keep it upbeat with Rocks by Primal Scream, but people vanished! Maybe they were just a little tired cause it had been pretty busy from the off!

The Proclaimers and Runrig were predictable but euphoric Scottish highs. Sunshine On Leith towards the end of the night was absolutely beautiful. Deacon Blue's Dignity sounded incredible.

Dancing and singing

The benefit of WIFI and DJ-ing electronically meant that I stuck Tony Christie, Black Lace (yeah i played them after people started a conga during Tony Christie), the Village People, the O'Jays and Journey off the cuff - I wondered why I hadn't thought of them beforehand! Total party tunes, really euphoric sing-a-longs and cheesey party anthems!

It was a great night in the stunning Ardoch House near Loch Lomond. There were many highlights; seeing people going crazy to Yazz, hugging and singing at top voice to Hey Jude, or being mesmerised by the beauty of Sunshine On Leith was incredible. And those from England who had never attended a Scottish wedding before were blown away by Runrig's Loch Lomond and the traditional circular pogo. I then followed that up with a cheeky encore of Whitney's classic I Wanna Dance With Somebody to end the night.

The last 2 songs of the night

The DJAY2 APP keeps a list of the songs played in each set that you can then transfer to a Spotify playlist. So check that below and there is also a full setlist. NOTE - for some reason it doesn't transfer to Spotify in order played!

It was great fun and it has totally got me in the mood for organising a night of playing records with friends and having a party.

Pre evening reception tunes
Somewhere In My Heart - Aztec Camera
Sparky's Dream - Teenage Fanclub
Baby I Need Your Loving - Four Tops
Good Vibrations - Beach Boys

Can't Take My Eyes Off You - Andy Williams
Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
For Once In My Life - Stevie Wonder
Happy - Pharrell Williams
Twist and Shout - The Beatles
Love Is In The Air - John Paul Young
Can't Stop The Feeling - Justin Timberlake
Dancing On The Ceiling - Lionel Ritchie
Human - The Killers
Chelsea Dagger - The Fratellis
Rocks - Primal Scream
Do Your Thing - Basement Jaxx
Everybody Dance - Chic
Into The Groove - Madonna
Gay Gordons - Jimmy Stand (played twice!)
I'm Gonna Be (500 miles) - The Proclaimers
Don't Stop Me Now - Queen
Jump - Van Halen
Oh Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison
I Want To Hold Your Hand - The Beatles
I'm A Believer - The Monkees
Just Loving You - Ruby Andrews
Why Does It Always Rain On Me - Travis
Dashing White Sergeant - Jimmy Shand
You Can Call Me Al - Paul Simon
Valerie - Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson
Dancing Queen - ABBA
Atomic - Blondie
The Only Way Is Up - Jazz
You Got The Love - The Source and Candi Staton
Groove Is In The Heart - Deee-lite
Just Can't Get Enough - Depeche Mode
Common People - Pulp
I Want You Back - Jackson 5
Don't Leave Me This Way - Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes
Stop! In The Name Of Love - The Supremes
Get Off Of My Cloud - The Rolling Stones
Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
Young Hearts Run Free - Candi Staton
Dancing In The Moonlight - Toploader
Let's Dance - David Bowie
More Than A Woman - Bee Gees
Get Lucky - Daft Punk
She's Electric - Oasis
Hey Jude - The Beatles
I'm Gonna Be (500 miles) - The Proclaimers
(Is This Way To) Amarillo - Tony Christie
Do The Conga - Black Lace
YMCA - Village People
Love Train - The O'Jays
Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
Dignity - Deacon Blue
Sunshine On Leith - The Proclaimers
Loch Lomond (live) - Runrig
I Wanna Dance With Somebody - Whitney Houston

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Beatles In Scotland

I recently enjoyed reading Ken McNab's fascinating book - The Beatles In Scotland.

McNab digs into Lennon's childhood holidays in Durness and love of the Highlands, his Scottish relatives and his trip up north (and car crash) with Yoko and children that resulted in them spending a week in hospital. There is a chapter on the Scottish Beatle - Stuart Sutcliffe, fantastic memories from photographers like Harry Benson, fans, Scottish musicians that played and toured with them and plenty on the Mull of Kintyre and on McCartney's drug bust when he was caught growing cannabis with great quotes from his Scottish lawyers.

I would thoroughly recommend the book to fellow Scottish fans of The Beatles. For the purposes of this blog though, I'll share a few stories. A full list of dates The Beatles (and Silver Beetles) played in Scotland is listed at the end.

Tales of their little known 1960 tour when they were still The Silver Beetles supporting Johnny Gentle, a fellow Liverpudlian, are truly remarkable. Did Scotland experience the first signs of Beatlemania?

Arguably yes, although the boys didn't win the hearts of everyone. The 5 Silver Beetles in 1960 were Lennon (19), McCartney (17 and just weeks from school exams), Stuart Sutcliffe (19 and born in Edinburgh), Harrison (17) and Tommy Moore (36) the latest in a long line of ad-hoc drummers.

Their first ever Scottish set included One After 909 (later to appear on Let It Be) and covers of songs by Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

Lennon reportedly got in a clinch with a local girl called Wilma and pissed off her boyfriend!

The Beatles were skint and Johnny Gentle had to phone the promoter to advance the boys more cash. It sounds like Gentle looked after them and spotted their potential and recognised their charm. The lads ended up having local girls stitching their shirts at one point. They slept in their van after their show in Nairn.

On the 1960 tour Sir Paul has said 'It was important in helping us get our relationships right with each other.'

Come January 1963 The Beatles were straight from a residency in the red light district of Hamburg to playing the delights of Elgin, Dingwall and the Bridge of Allan. It must have been a comedown! Although in Hamburg they played for up to 6-hours at a time, on this tour it was short 40-minute sets and by this point Ringo was on drums and Love Me Do had been released. Still, 200 was their biggest crowd when they played Aberdeen.

But come their June and October shows, Beatlemania was in force.

Legendary Scottish music journalist and broadcaster, the late Stewart Cruickshanks, was just 12 when he saw them at the ABC in Edinburgh in 1964. The Twist and Shout EP was the first record he ever bought.

Stewart told Ken; 'The pervading atmosphere was one of bedlam. The kids, and especially the girls, were there to let off steam. And they did. It was viscerally exciting because you knew you were part of a special moment, and you felt at the same time that you shouldn't be part of it.'

Stewart continued; 'When they came on stage, I had never heard so much noise in my life. I don't think I was too bothered, though, because it was just enough to see them. You had the records if you wanted to listen to the Beatles.'

I'll leave other stories and quotes to the book. It is a must for any fellow Scottish fans of The Beatles, a really fascinating insight into their development and what happened in Scotland; from 1960 all the way through to the Mull of Kintyre and beyond.

The Beatles, STV's Roundup interview with the Fab 4 from 1964

20/05/60 - Town Hall, Alloa
21/05/60 - Northern Meeting Ballroom, Inverness
23/05/60 - Dalrymple Hall, Fraserburgh
25/05/60 - St Thomas's Hall, Keith
26/05/60 - Town Hall, Forres
27/05/60 - Regal Ballroom, Nairn
28/05/60 - Rescue Hall, Peterhead

03/01/63 - Longmore Hall, Keith (cancelled)
03/01/63 - Two Red Shoes, Elgin
04/01/63 - Town Hall, Dingwall
05/01/63 - Museum Hall, Bridge of Allan
06/01/63 - Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen

07/06/63 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow w/ Roy Orbison

05/10/63 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow
06/10/63 - Calton Cinema, Kirkcaldy
07/10/63 - Caird Hall, Dundee

29/04/64 - ABC Cinema, Edinburgh
30/04/64 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow

19/10/64 - ABC Cinema, Edinburgh
20/10/64 - Caird Hall, Dundee
21/10/64 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow

03/12/65 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow (2 shows)

Friday, 13 October 2017

A year of Spotify

Around a year ago I joined Spotify!!!!


I always said I wouldn't......I held off for so long.......but I joined. Read on as I try to justify it to myself, try to do the sums for the company and for artists and scroll right down to the first playlist I created- almost 7 hours long and featuring 100 songs by Scottish artists!

I can actually remember the day I joined.  I spent a pleasant day off with no kids, anything on my to do list or anything really to do at all. That doesn't happen too often! I spent about 4 hours listening to loads of Scottish music. Some of my faves, songs I haven't heard in ages and bands/songs I have always wanted to check out.

And then on Saturday when the kids went to bed I checked out an album Carole King made with her short-lived band The City. I had read about it in The Times that day and then, just like that, it was at my fingertips.

Fear not artists and record shops. I will always buy records or merch. It is vitally important to support musicians by buying their work...if you enjoy it. They need money to to buy equipment, to rehearse, learn and gel, to get around and ultimately to record. And quite simply, I do love browsing in a record shop! I don't think I have ever been into Monorail without coming away with something!

Spotify - it initially felt like cheating. Even though it is legal.

A year down the line, any thoughts of cheating have long been banished. Spotify is now part of my life on a daily basis, it is the new norm. It is convenient, user friendly and it allows me to explore all kinds of stuff quickly and with ease. I don't think I have used iTunes since I joined Spotify for the pricely sum of £9.99 per month. Jeez, when I think of what I used to spend on a Monday lunchtime in HMV in the mid-90's!

I'm not alone, more and more people are joining the Spotify revolution - Forbes reported that they had hit 50 million paid subscribers back in March 2017. That was less than 6-months after reporting they had hit 40-million. Pretty strong growth!

The amount of money actually paid out to artists is negligible. Something like 0.004p per play/stream. In comparison, 1 play on Radio 1 will earn the songwriter around £50.

So for the likes of Calvin Harris whose This Is What You Came For is approaching an unbelievable 800,000,000 (yeah 800 million) plays - he should be earning around £3.2 million from Spotify just for that one song.

For another Scottish artist Duglas T Stewart has seen his seminal BMX Bandits song Serious Drugs achieve over 55,000 plays. Sounds like a lot, but it only earns the artist (the songwriter) around £220.

Gerry Love from Teenage Fanclub should have earned around £8,800 for the 2.2 million plays of one of his most loved songs - Sparky's Dream.

But do the sums. Lets say they now have 60 million subscribers paying £9.99 per month. So, unless my calculator is mistaken, that is a whopping £599,400,000 per month that Spotify rakes in. I know they have a lot of songs - but how much goes out to artists on a monthly basis?!

All quite interesting. Songs (to an extent) have a shelf life on radio, unless you are talking Christmas hits. Online and on Spotify, they are timeless.

One of the reasons that I used to put off joining Spotify was the fact that I want artists to be rewarded for their efforts. So Spotify do....whether they pay enough or not is another matter entirely.

It doesn't look like Spotify is going anywhere anytime soon and artists are having to adapt to the fact that actual physical sales will never return to way they once were and why download when you can stream?

I regularly blog about my Never Ending Mixtape playlist on Spotify, but here is my first playlist. It has 100 songs and clocks in at almost 7-hours!

Named after a classic Fanclub album the 100 songs fly through Scottish musical history; from The Poets and Lulu in the 60's, early Simple Minds with the glorious Chelsea Girl, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, The Skids, 80's heavyweights like Deacon Blue, Wet Wet Wet and Texas, loads of indie legends like Orange Juice, Teenage Fanclub, The Vaselines, The Pastels, BMX Bandits and Jesus and Mary Chain, gone but not forgotten acts like AC Acoustics (great to listen to them again), Dogs Die In Hot Cars, the likes of Churches, Catholic Action and loads of DIY bands like Stanley Odd, Colonel Mustard and the Djion 5.

Not to mention Mogwai, Remember Remember, Arab Strap, The Blue Nile.....

Too many to mention, but check the playlist here. Volume 2 might follow soon. Arguably I should have titled the playlist after the first song!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 15

My Never Ending Mixtape - my Spotify playlist that I add to regularly and blog about once or twice a month - has now broken 300 songs. As the number of tunes increases I actually find that I am enjoying and playing the playlist a lot more - playing it on shuffle while walking around Glasgow, or in the car or on a train.

The latest edition sees songs from 2 recently released albums by Glaswegian artists Gerry Cinnamon and Sister John sit with possibly my 2 favourite Neil Young songs, a psychedelic gem from Marmalade, a belter from Dinosaur Jr, the first (I think) songs from The Stones on the mixtape, we have a beautiful gem from The Pastels, 80's Bowie, a pop belter from Blondie, a new single from St Vincent, 2 chiming guitar pop perfection tunes from the Stone Roses, 2 of my favourite songs from James with over 20-years between them, one from the Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs opus, The Cure, The Beatles, Jenny Lewis, Ben Kweller and it finishes with a Bee Gees classic.....well check the full list of latest additions below.

You can find the full playlist by searching for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or click HERE Play from the start, scroll down to the current additions or simply press shuffle.

Keysies - Gerry Cinnamon
Thinner Air - Sister John
Don't Cry, No Tears - Neil Young
Like A Hurricane - Neil Young
Going Down - Dinosaur Jr
I See The Rain - Marmalade
Rain - The Beatles
Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks
Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones
Sympathy For The Devil - The Rolling Stones
Out Of Time - The Rolling Stones
Melancholy Man - The Wake
Boys Don't Cry - The Cure
Inbetween Days - The Cure
Mersey Paradise - Stone Roses
Sally Cinnamon - Stone Roses
Sometimes - James
When My Boy Walks Down The Street - Magnetic Fields
Getting Away With It - James
Vivid Youth - The Pastels
Hang On In There Girl (instrumental) - Jesse
Davis Band
Atomic - Blondie
You're All In Need To Get By - Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Modern Love - David Bowie
Bruises - Chairlift
Just One Of The Guys - Jenny Lewis
Sundress - Ben Kweller
More Than A Woman - Bee Gees

Friday, 6 October 2017

Teenage Fanclub Peel Sessions

You may have gathered that I'm a Teenage Fanclub fan. I'm particularly proud to be a member of the Teenage Fanclub Fanclub. An online community that becomes reality when the Fanclub play live. I've met some great people from the Teenage Fanclub forum and Teenage Fanclub Fanclub Facebook page over the years and had great fun.

Jeez how many times did I mention Fanclub in that first paragraph!

Someone recently posted a link to the Fanclub Peel session, a record I own on 12-inch but I haven't dug it out in a long, long time. I stuck my headphones on and was transported back to my youth. 

John Peel was a legendary DJ who gave airtime and live sessions to many an up and coming artist over decades at Radio 1. His endorsement carried huge weight and could catapult bands to record deals or add tens of thousands to sales figures.

In a pre-internet era there was so much more excitement about the release of a record, or catching it on radio or on TV to hear what it was like.  If it wasn't on the playlist then it might only be played once on Peel. So you could blink and miss it. Sometimes you took a punt on something just because you read a good review in the NME or Melody Maker - you couldn't search on bandcamp, soundcloud, YouTube or whatever. You had to hunt and you had to build an element of trust in labels, DJ's and journalists. 

The late great John Peel

Peel could certainly play some weird shit. But he also played some good shit, some interesting shit and some great shit. Most people trusted his taste and passion - they knew he would come up with the goods.

So back to the Fanclub Peel session. It was recorded on 28/08/90 and aired on 30/09/90, later released on a 12-inch by the marvellous Strange Fruit Records, a label formed by Peel and his friend Clive Selwood to release the incredible catalogue of sessions in the BBC archives.

TFC circa 1990

The warm guitars that usher in God Knows It's True are like a cuddle from your best friend and the  rhythms are spliced and spiced with delicious fuzzy riffs throughout. Much of the joy that this song offers comes from the fact that it sounds like the band are really into it, really feeling it. The Peel Session version is superior (in my opinion) to the original version - just listen to Brendan's ferocious drumming after the second chorus - is it a guitar solo or a drum solo? Its both combined and the Fannies make a gorgeous racket.

The Fanclub were prolific back in 1990; releasing several singles (including debut Everything Flows), debut LP A Catholic Education and they also released the God Knows It's True EP - essentially (for me) a double-a-side with So Far Gone for the 7-inch, padded out with a couple of crazier tunes more suited to The King LP.

So Far Gone is classic Gerry Love, the song bursts into life with Brendan O'Hare's drumming as furious as the duelling guitars.

Could you be the one, the one to turn me into something new?

And the chorus

So far gone, so far gone
I'd love to turn you on

It's a little over 3-minutes of flowing punky guitar pop brilliance. The energy on the Peel session is captured perfectly on vinyl for prosperity. Oh how I would have loved to have seen TFC back in August 1990. This is what they sounded like live - fun, ferocious and brilliant.

One of the beautiful things about the Peel Sessions EP is that it catches the band at an incredible moment - when they have just released their debut album and are brimming with confidence and songs - all written for Bandwagonesque, or for b-sides and EP's.

Alcoholiday is one of my all-time favourite Fanclub songs. The Peel session version again captures the glorious noise Blake, McGinley, Love and O'Hare could create. Driving guitars, furious drumming and innocent lyrics.

There are things I want to do
But I don't know if they will be with you

The Peel session version ends with the closing mantra fading out. I wonder how long they actually went on for in the session. Does an extended version exist anywhere?

All I know, is all I know
What I've done I'll leave behind me
I don't want my soul to find me

The EP closes with Long Hair, another of my all-time favourite Fanclub songs, tucked away on the b-side of The Concept. I just love the whole feel and flow to this Gerry Love number. The band fly through it, sounding super tight; rhythm, lead, bass and drums. It is a joy to listen to this EP again - I hope you enjoy it too.

I believe in everything I see
Why believe in everything you hear?

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 14

 My Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify is now approaching 300 songs. I add to the playlist every month and then round up the latest additions in a blog.

As someone who vowed never to use Spotify or a streaming service, I have to admit I'm a convert! I still love and buy vinyl, but the ease of access that Spotify offers is unarguably incredible.

So after reading Johnny Marr's autobiography and wanting to dig into The The, all I had to do was search on Spotify and I discovered 2 absolutely sublime 12-inch remixes of Uncertain Smile and Perfect. They are sensational.

Elsewhere on the latest additions to the Never Ending Mixtape we have some real heavyweights like T-Rex, Bowie and Lou Reed, cult heroes Big Star and Gram Parson's Flying Burrito Brothers and this must be the only mixtape to have 2 Groove Armada tunes sandwiched between one by Todd Rundgren and an R.E.M demo!

You can search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify and play from the start, delve in anywhere, play on Shuffle or scroll to the end for the latest addition. Or simply CLICK HERE

Association - Teenage Fanclub
Uncertain Smile (12-inch remix) - The The
Perfect (12-inch remix) - The The
Our Lips Are Sealed - Fun Boy Three
Together In Electric Dreams - The Human League
Cosmic Dancer - T-Rex
Life's A Gas - T-Rex
Sound and Vision - David Bowie
Queen Bitch - David Bowie
Space Oddity - David Bowie
I'm So Free - Lou Reed
I Love You - Lou Reed
In The Street - Big Star
Thirteen - Big Star
September Gurls - Big Star
Hot Burrito #2 - The Flying Burrito Brothers
My Back Pages - The Byrds
Chestnut Mare - The Byrds
I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better - The Byrds
Another Girl, Another Planet - The Only Ones
Couldn't I Just Tell You - Todd Rundgren
At The River - Groove Armada
If Everybody Looked The Same - Groove Armada
Mike's Pop Song (demo) - R.E.M
Nightswimming - R.E.M

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Erratic Cinematic by Gerry Cinnamon

One of the most exciting things to happen in the DIY Scottish music scene - in fact the Scottish music scene as a whole - over the last few years has been the development of Glasgow's Gerry Cinnamon.

Gerry is someone I have known of for a while through his previous band The Cinnamons. He always had a little bit of something about him - a twinkle in his eye, charisma, a presence and the ability to make things happen.

I've largely followed Gerry's remarkable journey online; homemade acoustic protest songs that went viral, open mic nights, Cinnamon-mania at venues from Kilmarnock to Dunfermline and everywhere in between and north and south and epic shows at T in the Park and the new TRNSMT festival. His TRNSMT show was so captivating that I watched it online 3-nights running.

Gerry Cinnamon mania at TRNSMT in summer 2017

Gerry writes and sings from the heart, he found his voice years ago and now tens of thousands of others have discovered and fallen for it.

Cinnamon tells stories, he speaks the truth, he talks of dreams, regrets, childhood memories, he questions the path his friends have taken and the world at large. And he does this in a warm, engaging, melodic and soulful manner.

It is safe to say that his album has been eagerly awaited. That its only 9-songs long was a slight surprise, but after only a couple of listens you realise that this is part of its strength. Singles Kampfire Vampire and Fickle McSelfish (both with well over 100,000 plays on Spotify) are available to whoever wants them - was there a need to put them on the album?

Sometimes sees Gerry looping guitar riffs over a drum machine beat and singing his heart out about his life and feelings.

Sometime, just sometimes
Well maybe more than some of the time
I'm on a false ego trip

Insecurity is rife, I'm not the ideal person to be lecturing on life
But if you wanna know, some things I've learned about myself

And then he goes on to tell you about the way the story goes and the way the water flows; from drinking in the park, to the cocaine scene, to popping pills.... the lyrics mentions about the water flowing, well the song flows - superbly.

Lullaby starts with some commentary recorded off the TV/radio about everyone being out of work and the state of the world. Gerry then riffs and loops his trusted acoustic over another drum machine beat. It's a beauty with Cinnamon singing for someone to sing him to sleep, sing him a love song and a lullaby of days gone by.

Cinnamon's sense of self awareness is evident throughout the album, as is his sense of (self depreciating) humour.

What Have You Done is brilliantly written with a touch of harmonica giving it extra feeling as Cinnamon asks questions and demands answers. Belter is introduced with a touch of Cinnamon-mania in the background. It's heartfelt, moving and funny all at the same time.

I think I love he, she gets underneath my skin
But I've stung a few times so i don't let no-one in
No' even belter
She is a belter

Sirens usher in Fortune Favours The Bold before a beautiful guitar riff kicks in and Cinnamon is in fine voice and the song is rich in melody.

The title track has a nod to Scarface from the off and adds on to the Wizard of Oz later on. There is another nice picked guitar riff and Gerry singing his heart out, seemingly lost in the music.

Keysies is my favourite song on the album, its a stunner. Only 90 seconds long it is pure Gerry Cinnamon at his very best. His vocal is rich and soulful as he reminisces about childhood memories running with the wind, the rain, what he was wearing, late home from school, playing soldiers in the park until dark.... It's just Gerry and his acoustic, no loops or extra tracks...and it is beautiful.

Diamonds in the Mud is another autobiographical story with confessions, observations (very funny at times) and philosophical gems. It is Cinnamons love letter to his home town, his favourite places and the Glaswegian people and banter.

The album closes with War TV and its like a modern day Scottish folk song, a Dylan-esque protest song - telling it like it is.

They're all quick to make war
But they won't send their sons
Shout the odds like a gangster
But they won't hold a gun

I'm no' that religious
But if God's got a plan
Then I don't think it's bombing in a far away land

Erratic Cinematic captures a moment for Cinnamon. The question what next? is already on many peoples lips. Gerry's Barrowland Ballroom in December sold out in a few hours, he certainly has more songs up his sleeves and the album highlights just what a talent he is with a pen and his voice.

With no radio play, no booking agent, no record label.....there is no problem for Gerry Cinnamon who is doing his thing in his way and people are loving it. It is a match made in heaven.

The album is available on Spotify, iTunes and on CD via Love Music next to Queen Street. Vinyl should be available in the near future.