singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
8 June 2019
(listening through speakers)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Benz Micro LP-S
Linn Kilmax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove Mk 2
TEAD Vibe Phoenix / Pulse 2
TEAD Linear A mk 2
TEAD Model One

A few nights ago, I was feeling a bit down in the dumps, so to cheer myself up I bought a few records. It wasn’t my most typical selection.

One of a job-lot of Right Said Fred singles on eBay. Four quid, free postage. You’re going to, aren’t you? Especially if you need a bit of cheering up.

Deeply Dippy is a stone-cold-classic pop song. It’s a proper piece of work. The backing is sparer than I remember, confident in the strength of the structure and the melody. The whole thing sounds quite effortless, betraying the at-the-time ignored fact that Right Said Fred were a little bit more savvy than a couple of body-building slapheads.

‘b’ is Deeply Dubby. It’s the same song with the bass turned up and a bit of echo. It’s kind of fun.

An excellent sounding record too, and on Tug, which was a damn sight more independent than half the labels those skinny-jeaned Camden guitar toters were on around the same time.

5

For some reason, a couple of weeks ago I decided I needed all the 7”s the Cocteau Twins ever released, even though I already have all the singles on 12” and in the CD box set, and on Lullabies to Violaine.

Four Calendar Cafe is still one of my biggest musical disappointments, and still my least-favourite Cocteaus record. It’s the album when the band dipped closest to the ground. Less pedals, parseable lyrics, sleeve art where you can tell what it is, and they even had a real drummer when they toured it. None of that quite clicked for me, and I preferred the more archetypal sound of Milk and Kisses, particularly the excellent singles off it. (Not including the acoustic double-7 and the Seefeel thing. They were rubbish.)

Bluebeard is the country-sounding one from Four Calendar Cafe. It has a good melody, of course, but it’s not what I expect from a Cocteaus record, then or now. This is fine, and normal. You fall for a band when the music they make aligns with the music you want to hear. You can’t expect those two paths to stay parallel for ever. I don’t like the scat-type bit at the end.

Three Swept, on the ‘b’ is like a lot of the Four Calendar Cafe songs: too long, flat, and aimless, without ever actually being bad or boring.

I keep digging out Four Calendar Cafe and its singles in the hope that one day I’ll get it. Hasn’t happened yet.

3

I don’t remember this one so well. Just the title line from the chorus. It’s pretty forgettable. Not a lot to say on this one. I didn’t particularly like it.

2

I’m not a big Belle and Sebastian fan. Too much of their early stuff was a bit too wet for me, and the people who liked – sorry, loved – them were definitely too wet. The Belle and Sebastian picnic, indeed. I cultivated an aloofness, while still very much digging the odd single.

I do, however, love all the God Help the Girl stuff, primarily because Catherine Ireton is pretty much the most terrific singer I know. In a fair world, everyone would know Catherine Ireton, and enjoy her singing as much as I do. But we do not live in a fair world. In fact, it’s so unfair that she doesn’t even take the lead on either side of this slightly expensive collection filler.

‘a’ has a disco groove, but without any other characteristics of the genre. She has “a rented flat and a big fat cat”. Excellent.

On the sleeve a girl takes illicit photographs of a canoodling couple in a garden. The work misses its aim of old-fashioned glamour by equipping said girl with a digital SLR. Last week we went to a garden show (shut up, I know) and I saw a gentleman taking photographs with a proper camera. I watched him until I was certain he was winding the film on. That’s as unusual these days as someone sending you a telegram, and almost as nice.

‘b’ is A Down and Dusky Blonde, which is a different take of the closing song on the God Help the Girl LP. Its lyric, horribly relatable and beautifully interpreted, always moves me.

“She talks like talking from a book”.

4

This came as packing with Bluebeard, to stiffen the package, so to speak. Brilliantly-monikered Global Parasite are pretty much what you’d expect: earnest shouting atop punkish guitars. The Arteries (not to be confused with Artery) are more musically proficient, and add a little melody to their complaints. They go on too long though, and it all gets a bit boring.

The cover art has a Victorian gentleman with a big daft moustache lighting a stick of dynamite in his ear. Top hole.

2

Yes, here it is. You knew it was coming, I’m sure.

I probably hated I’m Too Sexy when it came out. Surly teenager, hair in my eyes, Cocteau Twins and Throwing Muses on the stereo. Right Said Fred, with their stupid name and stupid novelty song were in no sense PROPER MUSIC. Or possibly I didn’t. Maybe I loved it from the off. I hope so. I was never one of those “keep music live” sticker on guitar-case “proper music” types.

The bass line is brilliant, as shown off by the instrumental ‘b’ side. It kicks off the song with a cheeky little climb; provides most of the melody; and underpins the staccato “too sexy by far” bits. Wasn’t one of the Fairbrasses a session bass player?

I have two songs which sample I’m too Sexy, and I highly recommend both. There’s DJ Frenchbloke and Son’s thing, with mashes up the vocals with the music from The Model; and there’s one by DJ Mad Dave, off a borderline-unlistenable compilation called Etc, which cuts the song up and reassembles only the things for which the narrator is too sexy. Oh, and there’s that Taylor Swift one where she can’t answer the phone because she’s dead, but I only have a download of that, so it doesn’t count.

Genius then, genius now.

5