singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
27 July 2018
(listening with headphones)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Benz Micro LP-S
Linn Kilmax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove Mk 2
TEAD Vibe Phoenix / Pulse 2
Luxman P-1u
Sennheiser HD800

Morrissey said “we hate it when our friends become successful”. He also said that Mussolini was better than Marc Bolan, that non-vegans should be fed to each other, and that Africa should be “wiped off the map”. He didn’t really, of course, but if you read on Twitter that he had, you’d believe it, wouldn’t you? What does that say about his standing today, and what does it say about you?

Sweeping the Nation is the antithesis to Moz’s (can we still call him that? Seems overly friendly now) original (and truthy) statement. In this song, our protagonist roots for the success of his friends’ bands. Maybe because they truly deserve popularity and acclaim (great) and maybe just because they’re his friends (even better).

(Sorry about all the parentheses by the way. I’m learning Clojure.)

The back of the sleeve shows demo tapes by some of the bands mentioned in the lyrics, and the front shows the “red, wooden transistor” on which the singer wants to hear them. (It’s a Perdio Berkeley, hi-fi bores – though from what I hear, Perdio were on at best a nodding relationship with high fidelity.) The “I wanna hear you on that” motif is an encouraging cheer for people you care about, and for celebrating their joy. We’re also told that “so long as you stick to what you believe in, everything you want will come to you”. It won’t, but for the three-and-a-half minutes this song lasts, it’s a belief you can’t resist buying into.

I’ve had this on CD single probably since it came out, but it’s a record that you need on 7”. I was a little surprised that the b-sides were different to the CD, and more surprised at how good they were. Meet Mr Marsden is a cracker. It’s a list song (in Clojure, of course, everything is a list), and the list song is a genre for which I have particular fondness. Meet Mr Marsden enumerates the sum of times which a person performs certain actions over a lifetime. From the mundane (paint eleven ceilings) to the melancholy (stop believing in Father Christmas once, lose your parents once) to the wryly amusing (be disappointed in with your new-year’s-eve fifty-eight times). It shows its age a little, writing a hundred-and-eighty letters, two-hundred postcards, and only taking seven-thousand photographs, but it’s still a fine and original piece of songwriting.

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Bought for pure completeness. As far as I know this was the only “proper” Cocteaus record I didn’t own. It’s pretty rare, and a very-good-plus copy for a tenner triggered my “condition”, and it had to be done.

I know not everyone particularly enjoys the Cocteaus early records, but Peppermint Pig’s always been one of my favourites. I like how different it is to all the others; not just the music but the artwork, and the whole vibe. I also like the driving bassline, and obviously I like the voice. Admittedly, they aren’t there yet (wherever “there” is), but they’ve left Garlands behind and they’re moving forwards. At an unusual tempo.

There may have been some Banshees influence in the first records – I’ve not listened to that band enough to hold much of an opinion – but to me Cocteau Twins seemed to exist in a world without any other music. Their lineage wasn’t obvious, and they seemed to have a healthy lack of respect for their peers and forebears. Even the people who ripped them off didn’t really sound like them, and thirty years later, the work still sounds fresh and other worldly.

When I listen to the Cocteaus, no other music need exist. They give me everything I need, and without a single comprehensible word of English. With that much beauty, melody, and sound, I can manage without words. I could even dance to this one, if I could dance at all.

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