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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