singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
14 December 2020
(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

I’ve already ranted at length about how I missed out on a copy of this, and how divorced dads in ironed jeans are happy to pay fifteen times face value for it, and how I won’t feed the flippers, and how I don’t really even like Paul Weller. But I collect Ghost Box, and I’m a Julian House fanboy, so its existence constantly taunted me. I had to either forget about it or buy a copy. The latter is far easier.

Eventually I found a shop in Japan selling a copy for a fair price. I was happy to paying the seller something close to Japanese retail; I was happy to pay someone to fly it half way round the world; I was happy to pay import duty. I ended up spending nearly as much as I’d have paid a Discogs flipper, but I feel fine because everyone was paid fairly for what they did. No one gets £60 profit in their Paypal that they can conveniently forget to declare to the tax man.

After all that, what’s it like? Better than I expected, since you ask. It’s four pieces of (perhaps not the most adventurous) sound collage, with “real” music being an important element, and it fits pretty well in the Ghost Box canon.

I accidentally played it on 33 the first time, and if anything, it’s better like that. Stand out track, at both speeds, but particularly at the wrong one, is Submerge.

Normally I dislike the gatefold 7-inch, but this one is beautiful. It’s a lovely artefact, and I’m happy I got it.

Don’t pay sixty quid for it though.

3

Trawling the 7” boxes back in the day, (you usually had to ask to see them) I used to see this distinctive Robert Vaughn sleeve all the time,

I never bought it though, and it ended up being crazily collectible. That’s perhaps why Optic Sevens reissued it, with a poster (of the sleeve) and a postcard (of the band).

The lazy reviewer would call it a crude Mary Chain. So, crude Mary Chain. I think the most notable thing about Meat Whiplash was that they only ever made this one record. Inexplicably legendary.

3

First of many tonight on Damaged Goods, and, like many things on Damaged Goods, a bit of a punk-rock novelty.

When I think Terry Edwards, I think trombones. But there are none of those here; instead we get a pedestrian pub piano singalong.

Not as good as the Pet Shop Boys version. Actually, probably not even as good as the original.

My scorecard for The Great Blur Versus Oasis Face-Off closed at 0 - 2. Don’t Look Back in Anger and Acquiesce, if you’re interested.

2

A couple of blasts of rough-round-the-edges US indiepop. Think Talulah Gosh without the music lessons.

Never Mine starts fading out, but realises just in time that fade-outs suck, and finishes properly.

Kissing’s Easy is the best song. I’ve no idea what they’re on about in either. Kissing’s Ace.

3

I used to do a Christmas compilation every year. All year round I kept my eye open for oddities, and stockpiled them. I waded through hours of unspeakable filth in search of the chunks of corn, compiled a long-list, whittled it down to a shortlist, picked the tracks and sequenced them properly. It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it very much.

But then, everyone who had a copy got rid of their tape decks; I started putting it on CD, then everyone chucked out then their CD players. Interest in it waned. When everyone had kids the general sweariness of the thing meant half the people I gave it to couldn’t even play it.

Next, seasonal internet radio, then streaming service playlists brought everything into the mainstream, and when even the BBC website started doing “alternative Christmas playlists” it was clear I’d lost my USP.

Last year I didn’t bother. No one asked where it was, so I didn’t do one this year either. I’ve still bought a few Christmas records though, and, oh look, here’s one now.

Piney Gir was on one of those compilations, a couple of years ago, singing an absolutely lovely song called Christmas Time. I bought a couple of her other records off the back of that, and I think she’s great. She mixes a positive charm with a wry eye.

The ‘a’ is a happy, choired singalong. The ‘b’ is a cover of King of the Swingers. Brilliant.

4

I, naturally, love Amelia Fletcher and all her friends, but I’ve always seen Tender Trap as the least exciting of her bands.

Step One is a kind of guide to being a girl-band pop star, and it’s quite good. The ‘b’ has a remix which I don’t much like the style of, but it’s clear there’s a good song in there too. I’ll give those old LPs another spin soon, I think.

4

Damaged Goods were mad for a bit of Christmas. They even called the label “Damaged Puds” and changed the catalogue prefix from DAMGOOD to DAMPUD. It looks like no one sticks around too long on this, so let’s keep it brief. First, the (festive red) 7” single:

  • Cuckooland: Nice version of Silver Bells.
  • Rugrat: 100mph cover of Mistletoe and Wine through a highpass filter.
  • Phantom Pregnancies: Make up with effort what they lack in fidelity.
  • Monkhouse: A proficiently handled Oi type thing called Guinness and Wine. It starts off alright, but it’s about forty minutes long.

Safely away from the adults on the clear-flexi Children’s table, Wat Tyler sing We Curse You a Wicked Satan to the tune of We Wish You a Merry Christmas. It’s sort of acoustic death metal. Then Spizzmas (who I assume are Spizz Energy) do the John Lennon Christmas Song. It is, of course, awful. Some of the standards need to go away and never come back. For yellow and red ones, let’s stop all the shite.

The back sleeve gives a shoutout to “all Welsh people”, and “anyone else who knows me”.

3

Not, despite the picture of Ronnie Barker on the front, a cover of the TV theme tune, but a pretty decent pop-punk type stocking-filler. The ‘b’ reminded me of Squeeze, and that’s always okay.

3

If you ever listened to the B-52s, and thought, “I like them, but they take themselves far too seriously”, The Superions might be the band for you.

First up, Sexy Saucer Gals, in which Fred and two friends are “seee-dooced” and made pregnant by three “gorgeous” – and clearly alien – women “wearin’ nothin but see-through nightgowns”.

Next, when out shoplifting, the goods fall out of Fred’s coat, so he asks Who Threw That Ham At Me?, to try to shift the blame. Disco garbage can everybody!

Then we get various remixes of Totally Nude Island: the jewel of a poorly charted part of the South Seas known as “the pearl necklace”. I liked the Urusula 1000 remix best, though Caspar and the Cookies had a pretty good take on it too.

The idea of constant nude frolicking is appealing, of course, but you have to wonder how the infrastructure of The Totally Nude Island functions.

4

Bam! Bam! Are Zola Bam and Chloe Bam. The faux-surname-of-the-band thing is very tired now, I think. You didn’t get the Righteous Brothers calling themselves Billy and Bobby Righteous. Though, now I see it written down, I think they probably should have.

Lovely two-colour screenprinted sleeve. The printing of mine is far from perfect, which makes me like it all the more. I love a print.

The title track is weird. It speeds up in the chorus. Not as in the drummer pushes the beat a little: as in someone turns up the speed of the tape recorder. I’ve never heard that before, and now I know why. Track two is called Something Awful. I think I used to do Photoshop competitions there in the very early 2000s. Before The Masses escaped AOL, ruining first the internet, then the world.

Calvin Johnson joins in on Medicine, by repeating some of the words the singers sing. Yeah, it’s Calvin and that’s cool and all, but he doesn’t add an awful lot.

The download code “does not work on Firefox”. That’s not very indie, is it? No major label browsers here.

3

Given away free, apparently, at a Christmas show in 2010 at The Hundred Club. Where, you may recall, Ken McKenzie saw the Sex Pistols.

Hard Skin do the Hard Skin thing; Betty and the Werewolves do the Talulah Gosh thing; Thee Spivs do the “Thee” band thing; Tender Trap do the Amelia Fletcher OBE thing. All are excellent. None are Christmassy.

So that’s a pretty good range of styles. Reminds me of that bloke on Popmaster. Ken asked him what music he liked. “Oh, everything Ken. Queen, Freddie Mercury, everything”.

4

Some Record Shop Day thing from a few years that I didn’t know about.

Recorded in 1986. Christ, that was long ago. So very long ago.

It sounds so wretched that it’s primarily a historical curiosity, but the songs are there and the songs are great songs, especially Steaming Train.

One calls themselves Marigold, another Pebbles, and one Mosschops who, I think, was the stuffed dinosaur on Swap Shop.

4

Good Grief: Bad Name. Their first song is pretty decent, but the second one sounds like the Foo Fighters, and I spent all of it wanting it to stop.

Eureka California are a bit indie rock too. Oh well. Nevermind.

1