#533 ‘Sweet Jane’ by the Cowboy Junkies (1 Nov)

Album: The Trinity Sessions, 1988

Justification: This has been on my mind a lot since Sunday’s tragic news, since this is the song that made me fall in love with the music of Lou Reed.

"I don't know, could you make the photo a little harder to distinguish?"

“I don’t know, could you make the photo a little harder to distinguish?”

Discovering music wasn’t easy back in 1988, especially if you were a school kid in Adelaide. It’s one of the huge advantages of the modern age – a 15 year old curious about this Velvet Underground band they’ve heard so much about can be listening to them for free in seconds, but at this point in history you either needed to know someone with the record you could tape it from, or plonk down full retail price for a disc and hope you were wise to do so.

The other interesting thing that happened because of this, by the way, was that the music you had was a lot more important to you because you had either made an effort or spent quite a bit of money.

The bands that I loved at this time – the Cure, the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, Models, the Jesus & Mary Chain, They Might Be Giants – were more than just the stuff I listened to, they were part of my DNA. I remember walking past a guy in a Public Image Limited t-shirt in Marion Shopping Centre and thinking “I’ll never be cool enough to listen to PiL”, so much was my sense of identity wrapped up in music. If you were going to wear the t-shirt, you had to have the records; and getting the records required a commitment that you couldn’t  give to just any old band.

And I’d heard Lou Reed before – I knew ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ and ‘Satellite of Love’ and didn’t especially care for any of them, I knew the Velvets were massively influential but at that point in time I hadn’t heard any of their stuff, at least not knowingly, although I had a very clear idea in my head what they sounded like (which turned out to be largely wrong, though that’s another story).

But then a Canadian indie-blues band recorded an album using a single microphone in a Toronto church, which changed everything.

This was the song that made the Junkies’ career. The Trinity Session was a spooky, late-night record and their cover of the Velvets ‘Sweet Jane’ was about the only cover of which Reed spoke approvingly. It helps that Margot Timmins’ voice sounds like honey, which brings out the melancholia in Reeds’ lyrics, although they do kind of stuff up the bridge – but even so, I bought this on 7″ and spun it obsessively, and it was this that made me want to explore what else its songwriter had to offer.

It also made me explore what the Cowboy Junkies had to offer, which was a good deal less – although I did interview Margot once circa Lay it Down in 1996, and she was very nice. She also said something about how she never went for the big, showy vocals on record so she’d have somewhere extra to take the songs live, which I thought was a very interesting perspective that would, surely, lead to more boring records. Like, say, Lay it Down.

This song was used to great effect in Natural Born Killers and several other films where whoever’s doing the music licensing has gone “OK, we can’t afford Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade Into You’, what other options do we have?”

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Let’s be clear, there are few songs more affecting than ‘Maps’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: Enjoy one of the world’s poppiest masturbation metaphors: ‘Flagpole Sitta’ by Harvey Danger.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

528. Black: Wonderful Life (16 Apr)

529. Bruce Springbean and the S-Street Band: Born to Add (17 May)

530. The Lightning Seeds: Ready or Not (11 July)

531. The Shangri-Las: Give Him A Great Big Kiss (23 Aug)

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

 

Why an Abbott victory might actually be OK for the left, and other things

Afternoon, Internet,

APS - a vision in tiredness

Andrew P Street, Thursday 5 September 2013: a human poem in tiredness

Just popping in because it’s been a while since I did an update of Stuff What’s Been Wrote By Me, and given that my Vine piece Why An Abbot Election Victory Would Be Good is going freakin’ nuts on the social medias, I figured it was a good time to link at it and get some sweet, sweet Google action.

The reason there hasn’t been a lot in the way of updates is that I’m planning on splitting the site up: making a fancy site that actually makes me look somewhat professional, and dedicating this to Songs You Should Rediscover Today Etc and the other things I love doing but get neglectful about. Of course, it’s coming on the back of moving house and a bunch of other fairly seismic life changes, so… yeah. The second I get a chance to do the site thing, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, read the Abbott piece and hopefully feel a little bit better about what’s around the corner. And when you’ve read that and think “eh, need something more snide” then read Unfiending: the gentle art of losing jerks on Facebook at Time Out. 

And my last Daily Life piece was quite snarky, I thought: A guide to not giving women the ‘wrong idea’.

Hell, here are my Vine 10 Things pieces for the last week too. Get those numbers up.

…oh, and a Breeders interview! That was also pretty fun!

Anyway: my point is that you’re looking lovely today, and thanks.

Yours ever,

APS

 

#532 ‘Teenage FBI’ by Guided by Voices (27 Aug)

Album: Do The Collapse, 1999

Justification: It’s probably their single best known song, thanks to playing it on Buffy and it being part of their short-lived period of being on a sorta-kinda major label – well, ish – and recording with Ric Ocasek and being total sellouts, man. And, because it’s catchy as hell, this is where I first fell in love with GBV before diving back into the catalogue.

It's hip, you know.

Oddly enough, it’s the GBV album that sounds least like a car crash.

So, given that it was their hit and all, why the hell can’t I find a video for it?

It’s possible that there just plain isn’t one, but I’m fairly certain I recall one involving Bob Pollard being chased, Beatlemania style, but maybe the band hated it and have deep-sixed it since. Or maybe it’s one of those weird licensing things where it’s locked in a bankruptcy vault with the rest of TVT’s assets. Either way, you’re making do with a live version.

And just to destroy all of my indie cred, I really do love both the GBV “sellout” albums. Much as I adore Under the Bushes, Under the Stars and Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes, obviously, my most played album of theirs is still Isolation Drills. When I was going through my divorce, ‘How’s My Drinking?’ and ‘The Brides Have Hit Glass’ were on pretty high rotation there.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2012: The newly-solo Juliana Hatfield gave us the lovelorn classic ‘Everybody Loves Me But You’.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

527. Hefner: The Day that Thatcher Dies (9 Apr)

528. Black: Wonderful Life (16 Apr)

529. Bruce Springbean and the S-Street Band: Born to Add (17 May)

530. The Lightning Seeds: Ready or Not (11 July)

531. The Shangri-Las: Give Him A Great Big Kiss (23 Aug)

 

#531 ‘Give Him a Great Big Kiss’ by the Shangri-Las (23 Aug)

Album: Leader of the Pack, 1965

Justification: Oh sure, I knew who the Shangri-Las were. ‘Leader of the Pack’ was one of those songs embedded in my DNA thanks to my parents singing it around the house for as long as I can remember (and it being used for a Choc Shake commercial in the 80s, which didn’t endear it to me any), but for some reason it took until this week for me to go from “oh yeah, they had some singles” to “this band were demented and brilliant!”

Leader_of_the_Pack_(album)

Before you ask: yeah, there were technically four Shangri-Las, but most of the time it was Mary and Betty Weiss and either Mary Anne or Marge Ganser, depending on the time. Yes, the band had identical twins who subbed for each other. That’s freakin’ awesome.

Specifically, until I was watching GoodFellas and ‘Remember (Walking in the Sand)’ came on and I went “Wow, that’s a weirder song than I remember, I should get a best-of – hey, here’s one on iTunes for ten bucks.”

Thus are minds blown.

The only disappointing thing about the version in the video is that it lacks the magnificent spoken word intro “When I say I’m in love you best believe I’m in love: L-U-V,” which I recognised immediately: it’s David Johansen’s introduction to the New York Dolls‘ ‘Looking For A Kiss’  from 1973. I didn’t realise that he was paying tribute to these fellow Brookynites from a decade earlier, but goddamn,  it makes sense: just watch these two sets of teenage Noo Yawk sisters freakin’ belting this out. Sassier teens are hard to imagine outside of a terrible sitcom.

Also, why don’t more songs have a little chat in the middle? “What colour are his eyes?” “I don’t know, he’s always wearing shades.” COOLEST BAND EVER.

So yeah, sometimes it takes me several decades, but I get there eventually.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Regurgitator’s mighty ode to the joys of video gaming, ‘Black Bugs’.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: Throwing Muses’ Kristin Hersh has the biggest hit of her life by stepping out solo for ‘Your Ghost’.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

526. The Pogues: If I Should Fall from Grace with God (15 Mar)

527. Hefner: The Day that Thatcher Dies (9 Apr)

528. Black: Wonderful Life (16 Apr)

529. Bruce Springbean and the S-Street Band: Born to Add (17 May)

530. The Lightning Seeds: Ready or Not (11 July)

 

 

How Breaking Bad could still end on an upbeat note + more

Hi, Internet,

See, he's happy! It's ALL GOING TO BE FINE!

See, he’s happy! It’s ALL GOING TO BE FINE!

I’m going to just starting linkin’ things on here that I think you – the Internet – would want to read. Like this: my piece at the Vine on how Breaking Bad could still end on an upbeat note. Yeah, big issues. That’s what I do.

So yes. You can read it at the Vine, and good times will be had. Or brief distractions. Speaking of the Vine, here’s last year’s 10 Things for Mon-Thurs, so you can feel learnéd and erudite.

Oh, who HASN'T confused legitimate news and violent fetish porn? - 10 Things Oh, who HASN’T confused legitimate news and violent fetish porn? – 10 Things

Maybe don't choose the red at Peter Dowling's dinner parties - 10 Things Maybe don’t choose the red at Peter Dowling’s dinner parties – 10 Things

Joe Hockey won't make a budget forecast with your dumb Treasury figures for jerks - 10 Things Joe Hockey won’t make a budget forecast with your dumb Treasury figures for jerks – 10 Things

Australia contracts election fever, pandemic warning issued for September - 10 Things Australia contracts election fever, pandemic warning issued for September – 10 Things

Enjoy stuff, if you fancy it.

Yours ever,

APS

One of them writin’ updates! Of writin’!

Morning, internet,

See? I know how the internet works.

See? I know how the internet works.

I’m a bit embarrassed about the delay, but let me assure you that I’m going to attempt to get back into the doing the regular update thing, not least because it’s the only way I can remember what the hell I’ve done and dammit, these invoices won’t send themselves. So, what’s been worth reading of my writing of late?

There’s a story about my best/worst interview with Blur up at Fasterlouder, I did a piece on When Women are Offered as a Job Perk a week or so back for Daily Life, my Time Out columns Your news, in porn parody terms, Least Likely Names for the Royal Baby and Guess what? Your stuff on MySpace has vanished, although there are some others I should find and put in the archive, and a piece on doing a sleep study that I wrote up for the Guardian. I’ll add some Time Out interviews in here when I find ’em – Japandroids, Tim Ferguson, Deap Vally… but here’s my interview with Elise Andrew of I Fucking Love Science, which is kinda great (mainly because she’s such a smart and articulate dame).

And here’s the last two weeks of news at the Vine too:

'Hotel California' claims yet another victim via karaoke murder - 10 Things ‘Hotel California’ claims yet another victim via karaoke murder – 10 Things

Did YOUR dog chew off your testicles in the night? - 10 Things Did YOUR dog chew off your testicles in the night? – 10 Things

Russia's president sends strong message to the nation's fish - 10 Things Russia’s president sends strong message to the nation’s fish – 10 Things

Powerful international figures brought down by hubris, genitals - 10 Things Powerful international figures brought down by hubris, genitals – 10 Things

Kurt Cobain approached to inspire college football team FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE - 10 Things Kurt Cobain approached to inspire college football team FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE – 10 Things

Insert hilarious "Beyoncé attacked by fan!" headline here - 10 Things Insert hilarious “Beyoncé attacked by fan!” headline here – 10 Things

UK to ban all online pornography in final victory over boobs, wangs - 10 Things UK to ban all online pornography in final victory over boobs, wangs – 10 Things

We'll ALL be unsettled in Australia - 10 Things We’ll ALL be unsettled in Australia – 10 Things

…and there’s stuff coming up in the Sunday Tele (reviews of The Bling Ring, The Way, Way Back and 100 Bloody Acres), Rolling Stone (Franz Ferdinand interview) and a bunch of other things. But there should be more, you’re right. Next week, honest.

Yours ever (exhausted),

APS

#530 ‘Ready or Not’ by the Lightning Seeds (11 July)

Album: Dizzy Heights, 1996

Justification: There aren’t many bands that I look back at my love for with complete confusion. I mean, my fondness for some bands will ebb and flow fairly dramatically (my 14 year old self and I would have very different opinions on the Cure, for example) but generally speaking I accumulate rather than replace.

However: there was a time I adored the Lightning Seeds, and for the life of me I can’t work out why.

Lightning_Seeds_-_Dizzy_Heights

Seriously, why did I love this album? WHY?

It’s not that they were bad – well, I say “they”, but it was basically producer-turned-muso Ian Broudie – but I can remember a time when I was absolutely thrashing the Dizzy Heights album and this song in particular, and now I’m utterly baffled at the very idea of having a strong feeling about such a milquetoast artist, much less such an astonishingly patchy album (there was a time in my life when I listened to a song called ‘Sugar Coated Iceberg’ and didn’t want to deck everyone involved? What the hell was wrong with me?). I’m quietly confident that I gave this a rave review in dB Magazine at the time too, for which I apologise unreservedly. Fortunately it would exist only in yellowed print these days, since the internet was but a weird and soon-to-vanish fad in the eyes of our editors in 1996.

Then again, this song was also one my ex-wife and I used to consider special thanks to that weird, coupley way in which certain songs take on resonances that they don’t objectively deserve. That’s probably why I can slip this onto the list with a degree of equanimity these days.

Or it might be that, unlike 1996, I can listen to it and go “oh, it’s obviously about cocaine”. I mean, look at the lyrics: “I can’t stay home with all this time to kill, oh god I can’t sit still… I’ve got a million thoughts and when I’ve thought them all, I’ll think a million more… you make me feel alright, it’s like the tippermost-toppermost high”. Certainly sounds like the sort of idiotic stuff that goes through my head on the all-too-frustratingly-rare occasion that I’ve had a couple of lines.

Anyway, the chorus does hit me in the feels a little bit – but it’s more in a “ah, the stuff you’re going to learn, my friend” sort of a way than in a nostalgic one.

So yes: In 1996 I was pretty convinced I had everything figured out, was listening to the Lightning Seeds and thinking they were good. So at least I was consistently wrong, I guess.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: It’s not quite the Breeders, though it probably should have been: it’s the Amps and the rockin’ ‘Tipp City’.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2012: Admit it: you know you love The Waitresses’ worldwide hit ‘I Know What Boys Like’.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

525. The Cure: A Night Like This (1 Mar)

526. The Pogues: If I Should Fall from Grace with God (15 Mar)

527. Hefner: The Day that Thatcher Dies (9 Apr)

528. Black: Wonderful Life (16 Apr)

529. Bruce Springbean and the S-Street Band: Born to Add (17 May)

 

The words… always the words…

Oh, Internet.

I know, it’s been ages. And I’ve written a lot. Like, a stupid amount of stuff.

Like what, you may justifiably ask.

Oh, let me tell you.

There’s a You Am I interview in Rolling Stone, and a scathing review of The Internship for the Sunday Telegraph, and the current Australian Guitar has my Black Sabbath cover story.

For stuff online that I can actually link to, there’s a tonne of stuff. For one thing, I’m now doing some writing for the Guardian’s Australian operations, which is why I interviewed Ralf Hütter from Kraftwerk and reviewed Matthew E White’s show at Vivid.

I did some pieces for the Vine, including this handy guide How to Die on Mars.

Time Out, of course, has a load of stuff. Like, oooh, the opening of Newtown Social ClubGodzilla, You Am I, and other articles I’ll get linked up as soon as they go live.

And there are some snide things about the guy who invented the GIF and the alternatives to Bananas in Pyjamas.

And my regular Time Out columns: latest one is me admitting to not being a drinker anymore (and how much that sucks) in Prisoner of Sobriety, and there’s also When is it appropriate to wear a onesie, Why Coffee is Great and this year’s hottest book to film adaptations.

And, of course, there’s my news for the Vine, of which there’s been a lot. Here’s two weeks of them:

Sexists annoyed that they can't even be sexist without being branded sexists - 10 ThingsSexists annoyed that they can’t even be sexist without being branded sexists – 10 Things

Sales of Orwell's 1984 up by 7000%, definitely unrelated to government surveillance - 10 Things Sales of Orwell’s 1984 up by 7000%, definitely unrelated to government surveillance – 10 Things

Man sends unsolicited dick pic, recipient forwards to his mum - 10 Things Man sends unsolicited dick pic, recipient forwards to his mum – 10 Things

So, who do you reckon will be PM tomorrow? - 10 Things So, who do you reckon will be PM tomorrow? – 10 Things

Elderly man visits doctor with tummy trouble, finds out he's biologically female - 10 Things Elderly man visits doctor with tummy trouble, finds out he’s biologically female – 10 Things

Happy nothing-interesting-happened-in-Tiananmen-Square day, China! - 10 Things Happy nothing-interesting-happened-in-Tiananmen-Square day, China! – 10 Things

Kitty smuggles phones into Russian prison no we're not making this up - 10 Things Kitty smuggles phones into Russian prison no we’re not making this up – 10 Things

"Ugly Hoe" latest entry in hot new yearbook caption-changing trend - 10 Things “Ugly Hoe” latest entry in hot new yearbook caption-changing trend – 10 Things

…and I promise I won’t leave it this long again, principally because I forget what I’ve done. It’s been a weirdly full-one little while.

Yours ever,

APS

#529 ‘Born to Add’ by Bruce Springbean & the S Street Band (17 May)

Album: Born to Add, 1983

Justification: This isn’t the first time that the Muppets have featured in here, and it’s unlikely to be the last.

Leaving aside that it’s a brilliant pastiche of Bruce Springsteen (and that this comes to mind more readily than ‘Born to Run’, especially the magnificent line “and we scream into that bitter night – hey, three plus one is four!”), this has sentimental value for me as well: Adelaide folkers the Bedridden – the band that featured the late, great Baterz – used to do a spirited cover of it.

Admit it: that's a brilliant cover.

Admit it: that’s a brilliant cover.

Sesame Street had some great in-house songwriters, most notably Joe “Bein’ Green”Raposo, but this was written by Christopher Cerf (who wrote a lot of the more rockin’numbers – he’s all over the parent album, and I believe that’s him doing the vocal) and the fact that the music was so damn good was one of the reasons I kept watching Sesame Street when I was older, generally with my youngest sister. Which was, after all, the idea: Sesame Street’s whole model was to have something for parents so they’d watch with their kids rather than plonk them in front of the TV. Of their Springsteen parodies, I think this works rather better than ‘Barn in the USA’.

The album’s just been re-released, which has brought me more joy than just about any new album in recent times. It’s also got ‘The Ten Commandments of Health’ on it, which is hilarious.

Also, note the use of “policepersons”. Adorable.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: The Only Ones’ magnificent contribution to the culture ‘Another Girl Another Planet’.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2012: Wow, time flies: a year since a very grim time in my life, and hence Sparklehorses’ ‘Happy Man’.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

524. Flight of the Conchords: Carol Brown (8 Feb)

525. The Cure: A Night Like This (1 Mar)

526. The Pogues: If I Should Fall from Grace with God (15 Mar)

527. Hefner: The Day that Thatcher Dies (9 Apr)

528. Black: Wonderful Life (16 Apr)

Hey Internet, here’s some stuff to read

Morning,

It’s a mini-update, really, because there’s been minimal stuff published this week. A lot of actual writing, mind, as will become clear in future issues of Time Out, Blunt and Rolling Stone, but in terms of things you can click on right now… it looks pretty pathetic. But: there’s my column at Time Out this week is How to stage a successful music festival. And, of course, there’s a bunch of 10 Things at the Vine, such as…

Paul McCartney attacked by, duets with giant swarm of Brazilian grasshoppers - 10 Things Paul McCartney attacked by, duets with giant swarm of Brazilian grasshoppers – 10 Things

Girls Gone Wild founder heading for jail after Girls Gone To Police - 10 Things Girls Gone Wild founder heading for jail after Girls Gone To Police – 10 Things

Giant boozed-up monster attacks Ghostbuster and Stormtrooper - 10 Things Giant boozed-up monster attacks Ghostbuster and Stormtrooper – 10 Things

China's official newspaper moves into state-of-the-art Penisdome - 10 Things China’s official newspaper moves into state-of-the-art Penisdome – 10 Things

I think there should be a Spring Breakers film review somewhere around too. Hmm. I should hunt it down.

Yours ever,

APS