Monday, 23 March 2020

Bubble Eyed Dog Boys (1990) C15

Back in 1990 I was cartoonist for The Lion Roars, the unofficial organ of Millwall FC fandom based in Catford, south-east London. I wasn't a huge fan of the magazine, despite drawing stuff they asked (and even paid) me to draw for them, but The Lion Roars was always redeemed by the contributions of one Reggie Spooner. His writing was always on point, funny, and he'd heard of the Photos - which scored big points with me. Also, unless I'm getting my wires crossed, he was friends with some bloke who managed a band, specifically this one, and they wanted someone to come up with a design for a T-shirt, so they asked me. I was supplied with a demo tape, a few bits of publicity material - press flyer, 8x10 glossies and so on - and I came up with the thing you can see above, hand lettered which is why the y looks a bit wonky.

They played at the Amersham Arms in New Cross around this time so I went to see them, and they were honestly fucking fantastic, so it was quite a pleasure to design something for a band I actually liked, plus I sort of fancied Anne, a bit. As you will hear if you download this stuff, they were a sort of er... powerpop thing, I suppose you would call it. They remind me of the similarly excellent and yet obscure Vivarama (formed by two ex-Cravats who weren't the Shend) who themselves were compared to Voice of the Beehive. I couldn't say for sure, not having knowingly heard anything by Voice of the Beehive (although I remember the name) but I gather you could probably say the same of the Bubble Eyed Dog Boys. I had the impression they were really going for the whole big time thing with record deals, promotionally speaking, but probably never quite got there, which is a shame, because I would have preferred this blasting out of the wireless to most of the stuff I did hear in 1990. I can't help think that Bubble Eyed Dog Boys was a terrible name, and maybe the road to international fame and fortune might have been easier to find with something a bit less comical. Never mind.

Actually, maybe it was because I mentioned liking the Photos to Reggie Spooner that he set me up with this lot, what with their being in roughly the same ballpark, musically speaking.

Anything else you might feel you need to know about the Bubble Eyed Dog Boys can probably be gleaned from the download. If the download sounds a bit funny, it's probably because you've ruined your ears with Macronympha and the like, and that strange thing with the different notes at different intervals is what is known as a tune.

1 - Understand Nothing
2 - 99 is Not Enough
3 - Turn Around

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Monday, 16 March 2020

A Shadow of Light - Awaken (1986) C15

Larry Peterson gave me this, so far as I recall, and I don't really know anything about them beyond that which may be gleaned from the cover, which I'm sure you're quite capable of reading for yourself. This one was produced by Martin of Attrition, which makes sense as they sound like a mix of Attrition and the Cure to me, and when I say the Cure I mean Faith - so the good stuff and not any of that twee Tim Burton crap. Actually, Play Your Joker makes everything the Cure recorded which wasn't on Faith more or less redundant in my view. You may notice the name of the label being Art Decade. I used to have a fanzine of the same name dating from around the same time which looked like this:

I assume this would have been the work of the same people but have no way of checking as I flogged the thing on eBay about ten years ago. Never mind. I have a feeling the aforementioned Martin of Attrition may have been interviewed therein. As you'll notice from the cover, they also had a C30 on Terminal Kaleidoscope, which I assume was the one which Alan Rider mentioned as having produced, but I don't think even he has a copy of that one.

Sorry. Don't know anything else.

1 - We Awaken
2 - Play Your Joker
3 - The Ultimate

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Monday, 9 March 2020

Basic Humour (1983) C10

Well, I did say I was getting near the bottom of the jar, and it looks like that time has arrived. It's not like I don't have anything else to share, but I'm pretty sure you've now had all of the full tapes from my shelves, things which had covers and so on - at least excepting the few I'm keeping to myself for one reason or another. This leaves us with downloads achieved by excavation or reconstruction - three tracks I had on the end of someone else's tape and that sort of thing, bringing us to Basic Humour.

I don't know anything about them, and the internet isn't very helpful in this instance. They came to me thanks to Colin of Refill Tapes who released this, this and this, and they came to me with a letter dated to 5th of December, 1983 in which the aforementioned Colin lamented there not being much going on in Devizes, Wiltshire. However, one ray of localised sunshine, relatively speaking, was provided by: commercial band, Basic Humour, who were near a record deal with CBS, but that has dragged on and on and on. They gig mostly around Bath and we follow them everywhere. We know them quite well now. We've included two tracks by them on the cassette, but don't release it. They will kill us if you do!

Anyway, when I came across these two tracks during recent excavations, copied onto the end of something or other, I recognised them immediately. I had no memory of the band and their name didn't seem even slightly familiar, but clearly I played these two a fair bit when they were first sent to me, so here they are again. Maybe, hopefully, somebody out there will remember this lot and what became of them.

The illustration, by the way, is something I drew in 1983 and is nothing to do with the band beyond that it would have felt weird posting this without some accompanying image.

If there's no post here next week, it's because I haven't found anything to share. There will be other things here from time to time so check back whenever, just no longer on a weekly schedule. It's okay - I found summink for next week.

1 - Umbrella in the Hall
2 - Seventeen Years

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Friday, 28 February 2020

Academy 23 - Retrospective (1997) C60

Now we come to the band's* Open University years, as typified by The Educational Booklets, which was a series of A5 zines bearing the above logo featuring, in microscopic print, essays on astronomy, science, maths and all that stuff those punky fans used to fucking love so much. I think Andy did about twenty or thirty in the series, and I don't think they were all written by him. While I'm inclined to regard this development with a degree of retroactive amusement on the grounds that if it's still the nineties and you want to know about astronomy, for example, chance is you'll probably go to a library rather than send off for a booklet written by some guy in a band; but on the other hand, Andy used to fill his version of SMILE with science articles, and I took a stack of SMILEs to sell at the Runciter stall for which I paid at UKCAC, a comic convention held in London around the early nineties, and the fucking things sold better than my own stuff. I even had one little bloke gushing over it saying how he'd been looking for it everywhere, and he was telling his pals about this great zine with articles about mathematics etc. You couldn't fucking make it up.

Anyway, this was the final tape issued after the band turned into something else, and actually a compilation of previously unreleased material (except Cam Ye O'er Frae France which I'm pretty sure featured on more or less every fucking tape). I personally thought the first version of Europe, Awake! I heard worked better with Hard as Nails on there, so it's nice that these tracks finally saw the light of day. These tracks, generally speaking, represent the sort of material which made me want to actually be in the band, but weren't representative of the sort of stuff I ended up playing on. Oh well.

*: For the sake of this gag I'm regarding the Apostles, Academy 23, and UNIT as essentially the same thing.

1 - School of Violence
2 - Hard as Nails
3 - All Thought is Telepathy
4 - Cam Ye O'er Frae France
5 - Subfeline
6 - Nachtlokal Jazzmusik
7 - The Psychedlic Racist / Gegluckten Rache
8 - Multicultural Interference
9 - When Jimmy was William
10 - Ode to Hermes

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Monday, 24 February 2020

Academy 23 - Bring Back Proof (1997) C90

Crivens! Here's another one I probably never got around to listening to, ye ken. I'm credited on the cover of the booklet, but I didn't play on any of this lot and I'm not convinced I was even in the band at the time. Helpmaboab! I have some vague memory of being around Andy's flat and finding myself filled with horror at the prospect of a track called Echoes of Adric, which was proposed at the same time as something called Travels in the Tardis which had lyrics. I read those lyrics and immediately decided that I would prefer to concentrate on my solo work due to musical differences etc., the specific musical difference being that I wasnae gunna be in a band which performed songs about fucking Doctor Who. Jings! Donald, where's your troosers?

That said, this is definitely one of the better Academy 23 tapes, well rehearsed, well played, well recorded, and decent songs rather than too many of the comedy numbers. Even March of the Cybermen, a cover of some Who incidental music from the sixties, is all right. My copy features a bunch of tracks uncredited by either the booklet or Discogs so my guess is that it was a C60 which Andy padded out with other stuff, although it's all good so no problem; plus it's nice to know that I actually do have a copy of his Rolf Harris cover.

Pretty sure 1985 and Altair are the same versions as on the Cameo for Earth 7", but I don't know about other songs which may or may not have appeared on any rare limited EPs which sold a million copies but only in Vietnam and South Korea and which definitely really existed.

Wu're all doomed, Captain Mainwaring!

1 - The Stoke Newington 8
2 - The Liberators
3 - In the Children's Hospital
4 - Decontrol
5 - Rub Out the Word
6 - Who?
7 - Fucking Queer
8 - Echoes of Adric
9 - Pride & Prejudice
10 - The Dispossessed
11 - The Witness
12 - Loudmouth
13 - Subhuman Debris
14 - Conspiracy
15 - Spit It Out
16 - Show No Pity I
17 - 1985
18 - Altair
19 - The Hunt
20 - The Patient
21 - At the Cenotaph
22 - Paradigm
23 - March of the Cybermen
24 - Love Song
25 - When Jimmy was William
26 - Show No Pity II
27 - Sun Arise

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Monday, 17 February 2020

Academy 23 - Birth in December (1994) C60

Here's another one, and the really doubtful material was my own, which I'm sure you'll agree makes for a pleasant change. Patriotic Hymn and Cenotaph were both recorded (on Andrew Cox's fancy keyboard) back in 1992 as Family of Noise tracks when I'd been going through a heavy Death in June period, hence my frowning in black clothes with a Bavarian castle in the background. Patriotic Hymn is specifically named after a painting by Giacomo Balla rather than my enduring love of Noel's Telly Addicts, Ginster's pasties, and everything which made Britain great; and Cenotaph was partially informed by the Severed Heads' Nation and represents my thankfully brief foray into martial industrial, which I suppose at least demonstrates just how piss-easy that shit is. What larks! These tracks probably would have remained unreleased had Andy not decided to include them on this tape, so thanks, Andy.

Elsewhere you will find a couple of half decent Wire covers, Nathan's thing which I thought was quite good, and a load of the Celtic stuff. The booklet featured art from people I've never heard of, which I'm sure will make sense if you bother to read the thing; and I assume Birth in December was in fact some sort of canny refutation of the aforementioned Death in June. Clever wording. Cheers.

More chuckles next week, readers.

1 - Patriotic Hymn
2 - Zerstort!
3 - High Rise We'ans
4 - The Collier Laddie
5 - The 15th
6 - Used To...
7 - Right Across the River
8 - Aye, Waukin' O
9 - Cam Ye O'er Frae France
10 - Nide
11 - Cenotaph
12 - Unserer Neue Maschine
13 - Hadrian's Wall

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Monday, 10 February 2020

Academy 23 - Aonaibh Ri Chiele (1991) C60

Well, looks like we've finally crossed the ferric event horizon here. I wasn't going to bother sharing Academy 23 tapes I didn't appear on, but what the fuck - I suppose someone somewhere wants to hear them, possibly. I wasn't even going to bother digitising this one for my own virtual collection, but I've been doing one of these a week, every week for the last million years and seem to have been carried on by momentum.

This was the second Academy 23 tape, the one which most closely crosses over with Relationships, the vinyl album, if anyone remembers that. This tape is quite well recorded for what it is, but never particularly resonated with me, so this is probably about the third time I've listened to it. I suppose we can at least be grateful that it doesn't seem to have any songs which just happen to carry the same title as a Skrewdriver ditty by massive coincidence; and a couple of the songs are sort of amusing, I guess. There's a whole load of mythology about the recording of this cassette on the cover, but you need special android eyes with a magnification capacity to be able to read any of it, which I don't so I didn't.

More Academy 23 next week, and the couple of weeks after that, but fuck knows what happens beyond that point.

1 - Lally
2 - Scots Wha Hae
3 - The Colliers' Eight Hour Day
4 - Lee
5 - Three Nights and a Sunday Double Time
6 - The Works Outing
7 - The Only Catholic in the Rangers Team
8 - The Weekend Song
9 - Peggy
10 - The Patriarch
11 - The Irish Washerwoman
12 - Highland Lament
13 - Dhòmhnuill Duibh
14 - O'Reilly and the Big MacNeill
15 - Fingal fae Falkirk
16 - The Ballad of Q4
17 - Aberdeen Beach
18 - O'er tha Watter
19 - The John McLean March
20 - Dark Island
21 - The Banks O'Doon
22 - The Fieldmouse
23 - The Culture of Glasgow

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Academy 23 - Look Back in Hunger (1992) C90

Here's another Academy 23 tape unsullied by either my surprisingly quiet guitar or anyone simply exploring controversial ideas and imagery, and probably the best one by some way thanks to having a few tunes on there, and some actual corkers such as The Stranger and Beat of the Blood (both written by Dave I think - probably says in the booklet but I can't be arsed to check). The Pink Floyd style psychedelic flanging effect you will hear on the first couple of tracks, then again later on in the tape at one point, is due to the tape cassette getting mangled in the machine, except I think it was whichever tape this was copied from rather than my copy as mine looks fine; so sorry, but that's the best I can do. If it's a problem, please consider that persons of Afro-Carribean origin are presently being shipped "back" to Jamaica despite not having lived there since they were three months old by the shitty British government, so your whining about the quality of something you got for free is really neither here nor there in the great scheme of things.

Actually, I'm not even convinced the first four or five tracks are even by Academy 23 because they sound pretty different; and including a few songs by a completely different band is exactly the sort of thing Andy would have done, so who knows? I don't, but as I said I couldn't be arsed to look in the booklet. Also, when editing the digitised file, I seemed to have found myself with an extra track among those at the beginning of side two, so I assume one of them was actually something with two parts, so I don't actually know how closely my editing and dividing this lot up into individual tracks reflects what was recorded - but it sounds the same so whatever.

In case you're an ignoramus or culturally deprived, Incandescence musicalises the poetry from The Poetry Society, an episode of Hancock's Half Hour and possibly the greatest thing ever broadcast on BBC Radio.

1 - The Invisible Friend
2 - A Song About Sex
3 - Kill Your Pet Mason
4 - A Minor Adjustment
5 - Face of a Boy
6 - The Outsider
7 - The Boy Next Door
8 - Double Standards
9 - The Stranger
10 - Sweet Dance
11 - Beat of the Blood
12 - Winning the Struggle
13 - Incandescence
14 - The Reptile Kid
15 - Ladies & Gentlemen
16 - Iconoclasm
17 - Dead Cell
18 - The Ville Man
19 - Oculatis Abis
20 - Spit It Out!
21 - Gay Plague
22 - Conspiracy
23 - Simon: Sleep!
24 - War of Words
25 - Single Standards
26 - UK92

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Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Jonathan Hunt - Who is the Captain of This Ship? (1983) C46 / LP

So as to save time (at least for me), I should first direct your attention to this review of the first Spiro album which opens in customarily rambling fashion with all the stuff I would have written here had I not already written it there. If you can't be arsed, it's how I met Jon and who he is, although you may also recall him as the man behind the Ideal Husbands whose Town Planning now costs about a million quid if you actually manage to find a copy; and while we're here I also highly recommend that first Spiro album.

Anyway, to get down to specifics, here's Mr. Hunt's first album, at least under his own name. I put this one off because I really couldn't share the thing without asking and I was afraid he would say no even if I did manage to catch him during one of his apparently rare moments of facebookery; but catch him I did, and he said yes. So, having listened to this thing for the first time in at least a decade, it could be argued that I've saved the best for last. This isn't the last tape I'll share here, but I can see the bottom of the barrel; and I had honestly forgotten how good Captain is - something which genuinely justifies the term classic.

Like I said in the review, if you bothered to read it, this album came as quite a shock to me at the time, being so far removed from the sort of atonal racket to which I had become accustomed, but it probably isn't difficult to hear why it made such an impression on me - beautifully recorded (Jon was never one to cut corners) and played with a sound which I suppose I'd describe as combining the bittersweet pathos of later Madness with Matt Johnson's soulful inflections, mixed with just the right amount of whimsy to keep it light, but not so much as to sour the taste. These are songs of such individual character that I'm not sure anyone else would be able to do them justice, or at least I doubt they would sound as good as they do here. Regardless of actually playing the thing, both Loose those Chains (featuring the very wonderful Jez Randall of the Abstracts) and I Won't Be Satisfied have been with me, in my head, for most of my life, the latter because it's one to live by.

While, we're here, the Simon Gilbert who didn't turn up on the tape (as mentioned on the cover) is indeed the bloke who ended up in Suede, in case you were wondering. Someone really needs to write a book about the Stratford-upon-Avon music scene, although it probably won't be me because I was unfortunately unaware of most of it at the time.

As you may have noticed, you have a choice of two different versions here. This is because when digitising the cassette tape (which is, lest we forget, approaching forty years of age) I had some serious issues getting side two to play without it sounding like an early Pink Floyd jam session, except it played fine on my cassette player's auxiliary deck aside from a higher noise level for no reason I could fathom. So I fucked about with the EQ, noise elimination and so on, and so hopefully there's nothing you'll notice, but I decided to digitise the vinyl version as well, just in case. The vinyl version has a few minor pops and clicks, but you can just pretend you're listening to a record. The two versions feature the exact same mixes of the exact same tracks so far as I am aware, except with a different running order, and the LP replaces Time to Get Up with Little Dog. I seem to recall Jon thinking Time to Get Up was a bit too sombre and had spoiled the mood of the album.

I know I crack the occasional joke about boutique labels reissuing stuff posted here on 180gsm vinyl, but SERIOUSLY - someone genuinely needs to get onto this one.

1 - Touch the Sky
2 - Penny Window
3 - Thunderbolt
4 - Launderette
5 - I Won't Be Satisfied
6 - Call the Coastguard
7 - Shoe Train
8 - 6%
9 - Time to Get Up
10 - Governor 'B'
11 - Intelligent Man
12 - Dance Germany
13 - Loose those Chains

...or the vinyl version by clicking on this one.

1 - Governor 'B'
2 - Intelligent Man
3 - I Won't Be Satisfied
4 - Call the Coastguard
5 - Shoe train
6 - Launderette
7 - Touch the Sky
8 - 6%
9 - Thunderbolt
10 - Loose those Chains
11 - Little Dog
12 - Penny Window
13 - Dance Germany

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Monday, 20 January 2020

Craptones - The Tenderest Touch From a Loving Heart (1992) C60

The previous Craptones tape seems to have gone down fairly well with a few of you, so here's the one that came after. It's the same sort of deal as the first one with sarcasm and chuckles aplenty, and beautifully recorded, this time tearing through all sorts of musical styles including death metal (or deaf metal, I suppose), synthpop, house music, acid jazz, and whatever the hell they felt like on the day. Extra points are awarded here for the live track which is actually just the boys at some karaoke evening, a move requiring the sort of balls that the likes of Bono and that bloke from Coldplay could only dream of; and there's Funky Monkey, which is just fucking brilliant.
If you didn't like Hi, I'm Geoff, you probably aren't going to like this one much either.
In this age of downloads, stuff recorded direct to your telephone, arsewave, and moonpunk, I'm not sure acts equivalent to the Craptones are still a thing, so if that's the case - screw you, younger generation. You're doing it all wrong.

1 - Funky Monkey
2 - War Ha Mmm Yeah
3 - (Get Down and) Die Sucker
4 - The King is on His Throne
5 - Green Tuesday
6 - Nu Nu Nu Stu Studio Line
7 - Funky Vietnam
8 - Craptone Karaoke
9 - The New System
10 - To the Batmobile
11 - Sunshine on a Rainy Day
12 - American Girl
13 - A Wild Western Tale
14 - A Towny's Song
15 - My Love is Shining
16 - Jonny Skoda
17 - Teenager with Problems
18 - In the Jungle with Geoff

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Monday, 13 January 2020

Craptones - Hi, I'm Geoff (1990) C60

The Craptones were something to do with the Stepping Stones, who released one wonderful garage rock 7" before vanishing back to the cave from which they came. I'd say I don't know much about the Craptones but that isn't strictly true. I actually know plenty but their spokesperson, the one whom I asked if I could gives this tape away for free to online strangers, said he would prefer to keep it anonymous, so if you want to think of this as obscure, early material by the band which would eventually become Coldplay, Mumford and Sons, or Pharmakon, then be my guest.

What I will say is that the Craptones came as a breath of fresh air at the time, but for the suggestion of slightly beery farts. It was nice to hear something with a bit of a tune, which had been fairly well recorded despite being an exercise in taking the piss, and which actually made me laugh, and still makes me laugh, not least the deeply moving, come on, baby, light my flame, I'm so glad you're not on the game. If that ain't some seriously romantical shit right there then I don't fucking know what is. Some of this stuff is kind of offensive, as you might expect of a band who recorded a tape as Dr. Buttfuck & the Anal Intruders (which I stupidly gave away at some point), but I nevertheless find it funny because I'm five years old.

More Craptones magic next week, kids. Sorry.

1 - Acid Flat
2 - Perestroika Potato
3 - I Saw You Standing
4 - Down SyndRumania
5 - I Know You're Mine
6 - Sound of Silence
7 - Love is Lovely
8 - I Want You [disco]
9 - Craptones Play Thrash
10 - Sit On My Face
11 - Sunny Day
12 - I Gotta Woman
13 - Craptones Rap I
14 - Darlings
15 - Craptones Rap II
16 - Craptones Chrimble
17 - Jon & Geoff's Groove
18 - The Talisman
19 - Num Num Girl

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Friday, 3 January 2020

Unkommuniti - Brutality of Fact (1984) 7"

I wasn't going to bother but I already had the gramophone plugged in so as to digitise the Larry Peterson 7", plus I've otherwise digitised nearly everything I can be bothered to digitise, plus there's probably about three of you who either don't have this or still haven't heard it. I'm sure these tracks turn up on that boxed set thing, so consider this free advertising for the same or summink.

The Unkommuniti were what Tim Gane (and others) did before Stereolab, back when we were mates and we all used to go around in a big gang dreaming of fame and fortune, so he'll always be Timbo to me. That was back when you thought the Alarm were the dog's bollocks. Remember that? Thought not.

Technically speaking, the Unkommuniti were actually what Tim Gane (and others) did before McCarthy, except I've never actually heard McCarthy so tend to forget they existed. I also have a couple of the Unkommuniti tapes but I'm keeping those to myself so as to avoid getting told off, plus I'm sure you can find them out there somewhere if you look hard enough.

The Unkommuniti were early Nocturnal Emissions with a Lovecraft obsession, if that helps, although krautrock traces can be heard even in this early stuff.


1 - Brutality of Fact
2 - Wall of Sleep
3 - The Price of Your Entry is Sin

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