#537 ‘Like A Daydream’ by Ride (23 May)

Album: Play EP, Smile mini-album (both 1990)

Oooh! Pretty!

Oooh! Pretty!

Justification: Ride have already been in here twice so I don’t need to explain how not seeing them in 1991ish remains one of my greatest regrets, how their first few EPs and first two albums are damn near flawless and everything else until their 1996 split is largely arse, and how little I care for everything that the members did subsequently: the Animalhouse, Hurricane #1, late-period Oasis, Beady Eye, the lot.

Except for when I saw Loz drumming for the Jesus & Mary Chain at V Festival. That was genuinely awesome.

Anyway: shoegaze has been heavily on my mind of late because  I’ve got a pre-release of the new Sounds Like Sunset album and it’s freakin’ magnificent. And that’s put me in the mood for walls of washy guitars, dreamy vocals and bands that sigh winsomely at their effects boards. They’re also one of the very few bands that I’d genuinely love to see reform, because I feel like the expectations would be gratifyingly low.

I saw Mark Gardener and his terrible hat do a tribute to Going Blank Again in 2012, backed by US psych rockers Sky Parade, and it was ghastly. Although they were supported by the then-just-reactivated Underground Lovers who comprehensively blew them off the stage. First time I heard ‘The Au Pair’. Amazing.

Anyway: with public demand for a Ride reunion pretty damn low (although they did get back together in 2001 for a Channel 4 thing on Sonic Youth) and Andy Bell having affectionately ruled out ever doing Ride again, I suspect they’d be a bit more humble and “let’s have fun with this” than a lot of reunions. And let’s be honest: hearing ‘Vapour Trail’ or ‘Leave Them All Behind’ played properly – and loud – would be perfect. Also, this.

This was the first or second Ride song I ever heard (first is either this or ‘Chelsea Girl’ from the first EP), and it’s certainly the only one I could play.

I used to pull it out at my endless solo slots at Merlin’s café in Belair in the early 90s around the point where I had otherwise completely forgotten everything else I knew. When you get to relatively obscure Ride and Carter USM covers, you know you should probably call it a night.

Incidentally, the girl in the video is neatly representative of every woman I had a crush on for the period 1990-1993.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE DISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: Swoon to the still-gorgeous, heartbreaking ‘Like a Motorway’ by St Etienne.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE DISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2012: We can probably stop waiting for Operator Please to reactivate, but ‘Logic’ is still a killer song.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

532. Guided by Voices: Teenage FBI (27 Aug)

533. The Cowboy Junkies: Sweet Jane (1 Nov)

534. Belle & Sebastian: Sleep the Clock Around (8 Nov)

535. Electronic: Getting Away With it (20 Dec)

536. Arcadia: Election Day (7 March)

#515 ‘Since She Started To Ride’ by Jonathan Richman (24 Sep)

Album: Jonathan Goes Country, 1990

Justification: There is something wonderful about specificity in songs. There’s a US indie band called Francine who did a song called ‘Set of Dune’ which is all about a burgeoning romance between the fill-in key grip and the head sand stager while making David Lynch’s Dune which is a) awesome, b) an amazingly odd idea, and c) the only song I know that contains the couplet “You said ‘please be still, my love / You’ve got a scorpion on ya'” / Shadows painted our faces, I highlighted Kujo, you read Uncle Vanya“. Amazing.

To be fair, those boots *are* awful.

Anyway: when I first heard this song I immediately remembered every girl I’d ever known in high school who was obsessed with horseriding: specifically the line “…and her car is full of hay’. And I have one friend whose relationship ended basically because his being around was interfering with her horse-time, which I’d thought was a really unusual excuse at the time but now accept must be a lot more common than I’d realised.

I’d forgotten this for a long time until about five years ago when I heard an album by Sydney country supergroup The Millionaires, featuring Dave McCormack from Custard, which contains a marvellously spirited cover. Still, can’t beat the original.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Hot Chip were making their best ever song (and video) in ‘Over & Over’.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

510. Juliana Hatfield: Everybody Loves Me But You (27 Aug)

511. Kate Bush: Cloudbusting (4 Sep)

512. Sounds Like Sunset: Each Time You Smile (5 Sep)

513. Marcy Playground: Comin’ Up From Behind (10 Sep)

514. Cibo Matto: Sugar Water (14 Sep)

 

#508 ‘She’s On Drugs’ by the Jazz Butcher (15 Aug)

ALbum: Cult of the Basement, 1990

Justification: There are a lot of bands that are masters of writing song titles that make you want to hear the song. TISM are obvious geniuses at it, but for a long time REM had a lock on it (I remember desperately wanting to hear ‘Disturbance at the Heron House’ on the basis of the name alone), and the Beautiful South went through a purple period circa 0898 with songs like ‘You Play Glockenspiel, I’ll Play Drums’. But I think this was the first time I’d heard a song title and went “Best. Title. Ever.”

1990: the era when indie-rock layout artists just kinda gave up.

The Jazz Butcher, technically, was Pat Fish and he was more a poet than a musician, hence a vocal technique that could be best described as “speak-singy, like some sort of low-rent, slightly drunk Rex Harrison with a head cold”. Triple J got behind them in a big way around 1990, and by Triple J I mean Maynard F# Crabbes, who gets a major shout out on the sleeve to the Shirley Maclaine EP that I believe was knocked up purely for Australia.

I remember playing this to the Undecided’s drummer Ben and saying something along the lines of “those extended snare fills in the coda? Do that sort of thing all the time, please.” I’m reasonably sure we covered it at some point too, and it went down about as well as you’d expect.

This is a song that I always want to play when I’m DJing, and barely ever do since it clears dancefloors like a flamethrower.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: Mad disco genius via Giorgio Moroder upon Donna Summer’s still-amazing ‘I Feel Love’.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

503: The Animals: We Gotta Get Out Of The Place (31 July)

504. Luna: Superfreaky Memories (6 Aug)

505: The Stairs: Mary Joanna (8 Aug)

506: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: I Put a Spell on You (10 Aug)

507. Iggy & the Stooges: Search & Destroy (13 Aug)

#453 ‘(I Want to Spill the Blood of a) Hippy’ by the Doug Anthony Allstars (4 Apr)

Album: ICON, 1990

Justification: Every Monday night when I pop into the ABC studios to do my adorable slot on Dom Knight’s show on 702 FM – isn’t that right, Sydney readers? – I see the smiling face of Richard Fidler on the wall, and more often than not I have a little moment of DAAS reverie while I wait to be buzzed into the studio. Yet it didn’t occur to me to do an Allstars song until I stumbled across a listing for their sole, long-out-of-print LP ICON on eBay and went “Who’d pay $170 for that?”, followed quickly by the thought “I wish I’d bought this on either LP or CD rather than, as I did at the time, cassette,” and then “I wonder if it’s on iTunes?” It turns out, happily, that it is – which is why I’m listening to ‘Motorcycle St Sebastian’ while I’m writing this.

I can’t remember which one of them did the artwork. I think everyone assumed it was Paul, but it was actually Richard? Jesus, I used to be a much better obsessive.

Anyway: the Allstars (Fidler, Paul McDermott and Tim Ferguson) were the first comedy troupe with which I became obsessed, seeing them on pretty much every Adelaide live show they did from when I was slightly underage to legally permitted to do things in pubs. They were the first comedy group to make me actually go out and read books and see films purely so I would get their jokes, which set me up nicely for the likes of Bill Hicks and David Cross down the track, not to mention the Simpsons and Futurama’s reference-within-reference comedy, and I can’t imagine how they felt about the response to BOOK, their book-slash-art-prank which was more or less a parody of genre (a point I didn’t realise until many years and a uni degree later).

My closest friends and I were defined for a good couple of years there by our mindless devotion to them. Along with My friends Adam, Alex and Kylie we travelled to Melbourne for the filming of the ABC comedy showcase The Big Gig, upon which DAAS were regulars, and managed to pick a week that DAAS weren’t on. This lead me to nervously go up with a letter to host Glynn Nicholas, who was all ready to be pleasantly condescending to a fan and whose face hardened considerably when I said, in wavering tone, “um, could you pass this on to the Allstars?” I can’t remember if he even waited until I was out of his direct eyeline before he screwed it up. Which was, in retrospect, something of a relief.

On the plus side, I believe it was that trip that we stumbled across an indie club being hosted in an inner city pub as a fundraiser for something, and convinced the completely inexperienced bartender to make us very, very potent cocktails for $2 a throw. It was also the trip I first saw a young, new stand up named Judith Lucy, opening for the Found Objects (later to lose a member and become Lano & Woodley). It was a good time for Australian comedy.

Anyway: the Allstars did this one album (although there are a couple of live recordings and, rumour has it, an unreleased “proper” album called Blue which may or may not have been a joke) which was hugely successful, but also dives between oh-so-wacky wackiness (this song, ‘Go to Church’, ‘Dead Elvis’, ‘Broad Lic Nic’) and actual, honest-to-god songcraft (the straightfaced ‘Little Gospel Song’, the pummelling ‘Change the Blades’, and the gorgeous, genuinely affecting piano ballad ‘Bottle’). It was a perfect distillation of three men who clearly wanted to go in far more expansive artistic directions, but also knew that people wanted jokes about religion and whaling on Richard.

Also, I think the entirely-different lyrics to the version they did live were superior, especially “Genocide, not Genesis, is what the world needs now”.

Their DAAS Kapital series was fucking great, by the way. I wonder if it’s available anywhere?

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: Outkast’s enduring classic ‘Hey Ya!’, probably because of seeing my friend Jon do it at karaoke or something. Hey, they can’t all be revelatory, you know.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

448. The Cult: She Sells Sanctuary (26 Mar)

449. Divinyls: Boys in Town (28 Mar)

450: Pulp: Do You Remember the First Time? (30 Mar)

451: The Trash Can Sinatras: Obscurity Knocks (2 Apr)

452. I Monster: Daydream in Blue (3 Apr)

#451 ‘Obscurity Knocks’ by the Trash Can Sinatras (2 Apr)

Album: Cake, 1990

Justification: This always makes me think of my friend and former bandmate Nick Lambert, who was the only other person who loved Scots indie combo the Trash Can Sinatras – and loved them a lot more than I did, since I pretty much only adored this song and was vaguely aware of some other singles like ‘Only Tongue Can Tell’ and got through 450 of these damn listings before remembering the band’s glorious debut.

Someone left the (album artwork for) Cake out in the rain / And I don't think I can take it, 'cause I took so long to bake it...

But it was a bugger to find a video (sorry about the wavering sound quality), which contains the main reason I initially paid attention to them: in one shot one of the members is wearing the same Flood-era They Might Be Giants shirt that I so adored and pretty much wore until it fell rotting off my body (typically alternated with a Doug Anthony Allstars t-shirt, because I was a fucking Australian uni caricature).

And the Trash Can Sinatras still exist, although they did take off a bit of time there in the 90s after an unfortunate bit of bankruptcy. And thanks to Nick I’ve heard a hell of a lot of their stuff, but deep in my heart of hearts I’m still bellowing “Oh, I like your poetry – but I hate your poems” whenever I think of this band.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Let’s go for the April 1 entry with the Posies and their magnificent power pop classic ‘Dream All Day’.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: It was a day off for reasons that I can’t recall, so let’s have a big ol’ look at the 1990 archive, shall we.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

446. Magic Dirt: Plastic Loveless Letter (20 Mar)

447. New York Dolls: Personality Crisis (22 Mar)

448. The Cult: She Sells Sanctuary (26 Mar)

449. Divinyls: Boys in Town (28 Mar)

450: Pulp: Do You Remember the First Time? (30 Mar)

#419 ‘The King is Half Undressed’ by Jellyfish (30 Jan)

Album: Bellybutton, 1990

Justification: This sounded like it should have heralded a chart breakthrough for power pop that was never to come. That was partially because the band fractured after this album and then split for good following the second one, and also because their cod-psychedelia was at odds with the emerging grunge fashions of the time (a mistake that Seattle’s Posies and San Francisco’s Redd Kross quickly rectified, to their commercial benefit).

Also, this video is hideous – although it was nominated for an MTV awards in 1991. Before you go “…the hell?” remember that this was the same period that MTV thought that Blind Melon’s ‘No Rain’ was the greatest thing on Earth. Grunge’s cleansing fire really couldn’t have come any sooner.

If memory serves, drummer Andy Sturmer broke a stick just before the end of the song, assumed that the take was ruined and then threw his non-broken one across the room. That was, however, the take that they used and you can hear the stick skittering across the floor and hitting a tambourine right at the end.

The various members of the band are still doing stuff, with a couple of them turning up on the last Cheap Trick album. Jason Falkner’s solo record Can You Still Feel? from 1999 is pretty good, and he’s one of Beck‘s regular contributors these days.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: It was a weekend, so have at the 1990 archive – which I think is the most represented year here at Songs You Should Rediscover Today Because It Is Awesome. I was 18 that year. Draw your own conclusions.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

414. PJ Harvey: A Perfect Day Elise (20 Jan)

415. Carter USM: After the Watershed (Early Learning the Hard Way)

416. De La Soul: Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey) (24 Jan)

417. Grant McLennan: Easy Come, Easy Go (25 Jan)

418. Wire: Eardrum Buzz (27 Jan)

#400 ‘No Blue Skies’ by Lloyd Cole (14 Dec)

Album: Lloyd Cole, 1990

Justification: Well, 400 is a nice round number – and I’m delighted that my terrible, terrible memory means that there are still songs that I genuinely adore and which mean a great deal to me that I inexplicably haven’t already sacrificed to the unyielding volcano god that is SYSRTBIIA.

This was Cole’s debut solo single after disbanding the Commotions, and doesn’t sound all that different to what had been happening on their last album, 1987’s Mainstream (in that it’s quite brilliant and underrated). It was also his commercial high water mark as a solo artist, despite the fact that everything the man has done is of almost stunningly consistent quality: from here on in the world stopped paying as much attention as the songs deserved, although he’s still got a worldwide audience that allows him to tour and record regularly (and he hasn’t slackened off either: the most recent disc, Broken Record, which came out late 2010, is freakin’ awesome). This beautiful shrug to the end of a relationship also marks the point where Cole really started to develop the croon that is now his trademark, which sounds even better that his voice has grown into it a little more.

God I love this man’s work, as I explain at some length here.

I’d also like to point out that only Neil Finn’s “It would cause me pain if we were to end this / But I would start again, you can depend on it” (from ‘Better Be Home Soon’) comes close to “You wanna leave me baby, be my guest / All I’m gonna do is cry / Then I’m gonna find me someone else / To tear the stars out of the sky” in terms of summing up that grim knowledge about love and relationships that comes only from hard-earned experience. That said, it also probably suffered commercially by not using the chorus line as the title (see also here and here), meaning that anyone who went into a record store looking for a song called ‘Baby, You’re Too Well Read’ would have come away empty handed.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Jesus Jones were the sound of the future of 1989 with ‘Info Freako’.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

395. Soft Cell: Sex Dwarf (5 Dec)

396. Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders: Cold Feet (6 Dec)

397.  Michael Penn: No Myth (7 Dec)

398. Yeasayer: O.N.E (8 Dec) 

399. Mint Royale: Don’t Falter (13 Dec)

#391 ‘Out There’ by Blake Babies (29 Nov)

Album: Sunburn, 1990

Justification: For most people the Blake Babies are known for one of three reasons:

1. It was the band that introduced the world to the briefly-threatened-to-crack-the-mainstream solo career of Juliana Hatfield,
2. It occasionally contained Evan Dando, who used it as a place to get spare parts when a bit fell off the Lemonheads (both Hatfield and guitarist John P Strohm played in the band at different times), and
3. Their drummer was named Freda Love Boner. Yes, really. That’s the best name ever.

The trio met in Boston, got their name when Alan Ginsberg did a university poetry reading and they asked him to christen their band, split after two albums and an EP in 1991, and they reunited for a bit in 1999-2001, during which time they made an album I’ve never heard.

I adored Sunburn at the time – I had something of a thing for Ms Hatfield, like every other male I knew – although listening back it’s actually a bit patchy. That said, it does remind me strongly of absent friends, some of which are no longer with us. Sorry you’ve missed so much, Jo.

This is superb, though, as is Hatfield’s mighty ‘I’m Not Your Mother’ and Strohm’s perfect, creepy ‘Girl in a Box’ – which I played at solo gigs for a number of years, occasionally with musically adept female friends doing the all-important Hatfield melody line. There was something weirdly liberating about singing “she’ll be a slut, a dirty little whore / or the girl-next-door” over a lilting two-chord pattern, and I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a better death scenario than “I hope I die in the nighttime / With my TV on and a beer in my hand / And you by my side”.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Placebo, it confuses me how much I still love ‘Every You, Every Me’.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

386. The Sundays: Here’s Where the Story Ends (22 Nov)

387. Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side: The Beginning of the End (23 Nov)

388. Adam & the Ants: Stand & Deliver (24 Nov)

389. Porno for Pyros: Pets (25 Nov)

390. MGMT: Kids (28 Nov)

#386 ‘Here’s Where the Story Ends’ by the Sundays (22 Nov)

Album: Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, 1990

Justification: If you were into the Smiths, you were into the Sundays. That’s how it worked, and I knew that going in. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic (I mean, does any album scream “Smiths fan!” more than that?) had already cast a long shadow in the music press long before I actually heard it, with reviews invariably accompanied by pictures of the cutesy-cardigan clad Sundays looking nervously at the camera. Well, Harriet Wheeler did at any rate – I don’t think I’d recognise any of the others if they came and stabbed me in the face while shrieking “I WAS A MEMBER OF THE SUNDAYS!” Which has yet to happen.

Anyway: I knew I was obliged to love this album before I heard it and was genuinely relieved when I finally heard this single beforehand and realised it wasn’t going to be a difficult sell. Wheeler’s voice and David Gavurin’s chiming guitar blended so perfectly that it was hardly a surprise when they married and had babies a few years later. I interviewed them around the time of the third and final Sundays album, Static and Silence, which Harriet downstairs and David on the bedroom extension, and they were freakin’ hilarious. Seriously. They are both funny as hell. Who knew?

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Matthew Sweet was making a stone-cold classic with ‘Girlfriend’.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

381. Magnapop: Slowly, Slowly (15 Nov)

382. Pet Shop Boys: Can You Forgive Her? (16 Nov)

383. Spoon: Jonathon Fisk (17 Nov)

384. Fountains of Wayne: Denise (18 Nov)

385. The Notwist: One with the Freaks (21 Nov) 

#323 ‘Kinky Afro’ by the Happy Mondays (17 Aug)

Album: Pills’n’Thrills’n’Bellyaches, 1990

Justification: There is nothing that maddens me more than a band that I can’t stand making a killer song. There I am, with my mind nice and made up about how shit a band is, and then Kasabian release ‘Shoot the Runner’ or someone reminds me that Oasis did ‘Supersonic’. And there I am, fuming and tapping my foot at the same time – which is both harder and less fun than it sounds.

In a similar spirit I present for you the Happy Mondays – who were, let’s not have any confusion, both a terrible band and an awful group of people – who had somehow parlayed their drug pushing operations into a credible band in the wake of the Stone Roses, due almost entirely to the production work of Steve Osbourne and (especially) Paul Oakenfold, who turned their spastic white funk into a streamlined groove. And even then I could remain aloof and supercilious, until I heard Shaun Ryder sum up an entire generation born of bad choices and worse opportunities: “Son, I’m thirty / I only went with your mother ’cause she’s dirty / And I don’t have a decent bone in me / What you get is just what you see”.

“Oh shit,” thought I, “that’s good. Really good.”

And then, even while I was thinking the above, they dropped the ‘Lady Marmalade’ “yippee-yippee-yi-yi-yay” hook, Rowetta delivering it in an authoritative soul bellow contrasting with Ryder’s exhausted, drug-fucked sigh, sounding as though he’s panting along with the song but too mashed to leave the dancefloor. It is one of the great meta-pop moments in contemporary music – an amazing mix of form and content.

They never made another song that even remotely touched me, but this remains a grudging favourite. Damn you, Ryder.

The video’s hilarious, though. The models put on a game face and Bez probably isn’t aware that a clip’s being filmed, but that moment when bassist Paul Ryder stares down the camera with that “you get that thing away from me or I’ll fucking nut you” expression is priceless.

THIS TIME IN 2010: Remember the late, great Kirsty MacColl via her still-potent ‘Free World’.