Broadcast on Freshair Radio 12/12/2018. Darren VoxBox and Dominic present a selection of Christmas themed tunes you may never have heard before. Well, some you will have; some you should have and some you will never wish to hear again. Ever wondered what Paul McCartney had on the B-Side to Wonderful Christmastime? With record shop based chat and vinyl geekery thrown in.
Featuring Shonen Knife, RM Hubbert and Aidan Moffat, The Ramsey Lewis Trio, Ella Fitzgerald, Emmylou Harris, Paul McCartney, Plastic Ono Band, The YOBS, the Glitter Band and more…
HMV have gone into administration again. There was a Guardian article saying how we don’t need HMV anymore and the response from labels, music distributors and even independent shops like us is that it is not a good thing for the music industry as a whole but I don’t want to get into that because this is not really a story about a high street chain that can’t compete with Amazon and downloads. It is a story about the short term thinking of Vulture Capitalist companies and tax efficient licensing agreements.
Strictly speaking, the company that owns HMV has gone into administration. That company is called HMV (Retail). After a quick look at their publicly available accounts I see that it took out a loan of £8 million at 8% interest a few years ago. Over the past few years the company has been losing money which was fine for them as they had that loan and others to help keep things ticking over. They were not putting much away for the pensions of the 2000+ employees. £300,000 per year or about £150 each. They were also somehow managing to pay £5 million a year to another company HMV (Brand). This is a very profitable company that doesn’t seem to do much. It is very much not in administration. It also pays very little tax on its millions of earnings due to “group tax relief” whatever that is.
Get rid of the company, get rid of the debt… It is what EMI did years before when they sold the HMV part of the business off with £100 million of debt that they (probably -in case lawyers are reading) had no plan to repay.
Entertainment Retailers Association figures
Physical music sales have been declining but relatively slowly. Netflix and video streaming has led to plummeting DVD sales. Your second hand DVDs are becoming worthless…
Maybe that came as a surprise to them but I think that HMV as a shop on the high street was not meant to survive under Hilco’s stewardship. It was a handy vehicle for them to take money out while eventually screwing their creditors, employees and the taxpayer who have to pick up the pension bill. Of course HMV was going to struggle against downloads and on an individual level many store managers and employees will have done their best to make money on the high street against a backdrop of declining physical sales and so on.
The total spend on music and entertainment (including downloads and streaming) is still steady at around £5 billion a year. People are still paying for music! HMV perhaps did not try very hard to break into the digital side, that would have cost money.
The timing? Just after they have sold potentially millions of pounds of vouchers to capitalise on the Christmas market. They saw it coming, they did, they did. They sacked their auditors Deloitte in November.
The borrowed money? That £8 million is due to be paid back early in 2019. Oooft! Perfect timing and a reminder if you see a fixed 5 year type investment paying 8% to stay well clear.
What to expect? Well, HMV as the public knows it will be “rescued”. A new company will be set up and rents will be renegotiated, some shops will close. New loans will be taken out and we start again with money being siphoned to a side company that licenses the HMV name. This is an unhealthy way of doing business. Perfectly legal, but in my opinion pretty immoral and causing a lot of worry to many in the wider music industry which will continue for many months. I am not sure if more people “supporting the high street” and shopping in HMV would have saved it. Just further lined the pockets of Hilco.
The music business has always had a shady side as far as contracts go as this Kinks tune explains.
For those with a sense of deja vu, I wrote about the HMV demise in 2013 Giving a Dog a Bad Name. I am still fond of the HMV brand for various reasons.
Edinburgh musicians Wounded Knee and Withered hand have played in the shop in the past and I will save Sair Belly, Stoated Finger and A Bit of Gout for a future date as they don’t exist yet.
However, earlier this year, we signed Burnt Paw to the shop label in the loosest sense and have made a wee run of his mini album, Stolen Apples Lost Crowns on CD so he has something to sell at gigs and in the shop. Copies come with free artwork. It seems Paw has destroyed a book to create this artwork, so he is possibly a terrible person really.
He struck me with his creativity and speed. He appeared at the shop out of the blue, he soaked up some bits and bobs of Edinburgh and he simply keeps making music, drawing and writing things down. I like that a lot. If the muse is there, then go there and create. It won’t always be this easy…
Paw kicked off Record Store Day for us earlier in the year and impressed the BBC Radio Scotland team who were covering our event enough to get a song he played broadcast on the wireless as part of their more general RSD coverage. A song that was caught by a crafty bootlegger!
Thank you crafty bootlegger! But alas the footage is gone.
Try this one of a song I don’t know.
Indeed he has impressed a lot of folk since he flew in on a giant white tailed sea eagle at the beginning of the year. With runes around his neck, pockets jangling with odd coins with square holes in the middle and little cast iron keys and a few polished stones – A wonderful currency but one that through necessity is spent only in odd places like my three and a half year old’s mind. Then there are the weird little birds and other things drawn on his jacket. He smells of cookies and his arms are tattooed too. Welcome to my life Paw, I love you.
We released a video for Horsey Horsey which was promoted as a single from the album. Thank you to everyone that reviewed it and played it, there is more to come. A book of poetry in 2019 and more music. Keep an ear out for he is really good.
“Mystery leaves a stronger mark than facts on our imagination. Songs are the deep well in forbidden orchards, ringed with echoes and unfinished journeys. Cast your leaking bucket into the black space behind the eyes and see what gets hauled back up. Rocks, dead frogs, whistles, hats. Reflections covered in mud and stars.
I recorded these short stories one after the other and they emerged as complete as they were unknown. It felt like an ambush by my own shadow. Something clicked into place, moon bones in the rainbow’s skeleton. Landscapes and voices brushed upwards against the light before disappearing. They said: creative survival is what it’s about.
Keep loafing. Who knows what you’ll find? Stolen apples, lost crowns.”
I know some people that think guest list places are a terrible thing that means that musicians are not paid properly for their work. Well, yes, this is at least partly true in the local scene. For bigger bands and artists, less so. On one level, it is a form of promotional spending without spending any money but sometimes you just have a generous friend in the right place.
I was lucky enough to get a “guestie” or “plus one” for Brian Wilson at the Playhouse Theatre. The venue had been changed from the Usher Hall to The Playhouse a few weeks before as the tickets had sold slowly and a different venue was needed. £60 standard. £88 VIP where you are fluffed a bit with a drink on arrival and Brian himself gives you a foot massage or something.
We had secret information that Mr Wilson would be on at 7pm and I had arrived at a nearby bar in plenty time to meet friends beforehand. For those that don’t know Edinburgh, The Playhouse and surrounding bars are pretty Rainbow in nature. Gay bars and beardie indie music scenesters don’t usually mix (I don’t make the rules) and I suppose craft beers and ales were too much to expect but we got a few rounds of straight white male ale in. When we were asked “Are you staying for the UK’s only dwarf drag queen cabaret show starting in an hour or so?”
It was a unanimous yes!
The show was fabulous and in no time we were all up dancing to ABBA and Tina Turner’s Proud Mary and we were all simply the best/dancing queens and so on.
Anyway, Miss DQ, for that was his name, finished the set with a few lines about the difficulties being born small and how he came out as a dwarf quite literally, then came out to his mother as gay and then talked about the most difficult of all – having to come out as a cabaret singer. He finished with I am what I am and I think I shed a tear.
Miss DQ’s dad was a dwarf too and didn’t see any problem with dwarfism as he passed his genes on with the message “at least you will be unique”. So that made me think about labels. Dwarf, Gay, Straight, Non-Binary, Chess Players, Ludo clubs/Ludoists, Village Green Preservation Societies and the LGBTQ+ community which seems to be adding extra letters by the month. Perhaps soon we will all be members in one way and the only rule will be to be nice to each other.
And he also talked about the tape required to keep his penis tucked away in the leotard. He was great Fun Fun Fun to watch.
We went on to the Brian Wilson gig. There was a lot less patter in between songs and Brian’s voice has gone a bit but that’s fine as he is a legend and he wasn’t the Beach Boys’ lead singer anyway. He certainly played the hits as well as the full Pet Sounds album. And what hits!
Towards the end, my friend was ejected for dance dance dancing in front of the stage and I moseyed out with him before the end. Although it is weird to have one person do anything, it is important that they get a first supporter. We do this in medical leadership training. If one person is dancing they are freaky, if hundreds are, then it is a party. As this clip summarises “When you see a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.”
My friend was the lone nut. Reader, I had not the guts to join in and I too left early to join him ** and we entered a neighbouring bar and with a nod to the bouncer went past some velvet ropes to go downstairs to an empty bar within the bar. It was “empty” as in literally not even open and it was a bit weird to be there. After a while we left as my friend fancied a chippy and I waited outside to see if I could find the rest of our group. My friend came out with a sausage supper for me that I never asked for then he said goodbye and he made his way home. I met our friends for a little bit and they made their way home. I made my way home full sausage and some fond memories.
It was a nice and weird night. I like plus one front stall seats and getting fluffed by Brian. I like getting through the velvet ropes into secret underground bars. I want transvestite dwarf cabaret shows. I want dancing in the aisles. I want people playing guitar with their teeth. Duck Walking. Camel Walking. I want to see people who have the balls, taped away or not, to stand up, applaud with gusto or scream like a 60’s teenager. That’s the club for me… get me in!
**I had wanted to stay to the end to check if Brian’s piano was actually plugged in as he had 2 keyboardists on stage with him and… Well I’m pi(ano)-curious.
A fresh Sunday Session to keep us warm in December. Errant Boy have a new record on the shelf and will play a wee set in the shop on the 9th. Support is from their labelmate (Errant Media) Stephen McLaren. They’ll be on at 4pm and it’ll warm your soul. Failing that, we’ll get some mulled wine in to do the job. Here’s the single Means. The words are poetry. I love it!
Edinburgh-based trio Errant Boy’s second album Memory Fractures continues to finesse and develop the taut song-writing of debut collection A Wayward Mirror (2016).
Memory Fractures begins with Means’ Italian film sample and ends on The Undeserted House’s haunted babble. In between are snapshots of a tense Belfast childhood and alcohol-fuelled bliss and regret in Edinburgh, North London and beyond. A striking guitar gauze duels with a solid but unfussy rhythm section throughout, perfectly serving these mostly short blasts of experience. Musically, it’s melodic and lean, intense and compact. Lyrically, it draws on autobiographical fragments spanning childhood, youth, twenties cutting loose and fatherhood.
Errant Boy is Chris Harvie (guitars/songs), Sarrah McLaren (drums), Sean Ormsby (voice/bass/songs).
Formed in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2015, the band has been building on its well-reviewed debut which included a four star review in The Scotsman and radio play as a BBC Introducing artist. The band takes inspiration from the smart guitar pop of the 1980s and adores Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, The Go-Betweens, Felt and The Smiths.
Memory Fractures album cover
‘Debonair’ (BBC Introducing Scotland podcast)
**** (The Scotsman newspaper)
‘Revelatory’ (Glasgow Podcart Track of the Day)
‘elegant, experimental pop’ (The List magazine)
‘frankly superb’ (Scottish Fiction Track of the Day)
‘lighthearted and sinister’ (The National newspaper)
‘striking sound and unconventional style’ (RaveChild blog)
‘it’s a song to fall in love with and to – simply thrilling, honey’ (Scots Whay Hae blog)
‘excellent dynamics…demands repeated plays’ (When You Motor Away blog)
‘a frenetic sonic whirlpool’ (The Barley Boat blog)
The band has also co-founded and developed Errant Media an independent label and home to Shards, Errant Boy, Stephen McLaren and Locked Hands. Releases have already been supported by BBC Introducing Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway Show, respected blogs like Song, By Toad, Scottish Fiction, Faronheit, Almost Predictable, Almost, When You Motor Away, Penny Black and Scots Whay Hae as well as UK and international podcasters and print media like The Scotsman, The Herald, The Skinny, The List and The National. Errant Media also promotes regular gigs at Edinburgh’s revered Leith Depot.
Edinburgh’s only full time record label will soon cease to exist after the release of a final Split 12″ album. This is very sad news for me as I had been introduced to the Edinburgh and wider Scottish independent music scene through the label Song, by Toad shortly after the shop opened in 2011.
Gin and Swearing with a strapline; “Because The World is WRONG About Music”.
I wrote about that a long time ago and maybe should have written more in support of the label in recent years but you know, you have kids and your life changes and the free time becomes tired “I’ll do it tomorrow time” so I have not been able to finish many different things for a few years now. Including a stock take and paying a Song, by Toad invoice which Matthew Toad has been too polite to chase up.
I have not written about many bands as such and I stopped reviewing things in the conventional sense very quickly after seeing Hawkwind at the Queen’s Hall in 2012. I wouldn’t want Hawkwind to review my shop and be offended if we did not have their records, so why should I give them a bad review if I didn’t like the gig. Everyone else, the hordes, loved it. When I have written about bands, they tend to have been “Toad Bands”, Adam Stafford, The Leg, PAWS who snuck onto a Split 12″. I discovered Edinburgh Indie royalty Meursault and who William Henry Miller was and discovered he was buried in a MASSIVE tomb near me and wrote about that.
AND the Rob St John album Weald on SBT should have won the SAY Award a few years ago but it is so hard to get heard. Adam Stafford and Meursault have been contenders for the SAY Award too and that in itself is a great achievement. The label has also built to a level where Radio 6 are now opening the emails and it is great to hear these songs played on Radio 6. “We’re playing B. Mountain today” said Lauren Laverne. A band christening themselves “Bastard Mountain” would be a challenge for commercial radio but Song, by Toad gave creative freedom to the artists and fiddlesticks to the consequences. This was a SBT supergroup and they made one of my favourite albums, Farewell, Bastard Mountain. The song they played on the radio was Drone Armatrading based around an improvised violin solo. Wonderful! There is not a video for it but here is one for the song Meadow Ghosts which is also pretty great.
I almost forgot about Honeyblood, I saw them at a gig organised by Mr Toad , became smitten and I wrote about them too.
I have written posts about Ian Humberstone who is loosely connected to the label but I never managed to finish it “Dream Rivers, Tisso Lakes” and also about “The Mysterious Siobhan Wilson” who I first saw at a Toad gig. Her album There Are No Saints was shortlisted for the Scottish Album of the Year Award. I would like to find the time to finish these some day but there is already a more recent one about Brian Wilson and a dwarf cabaret show that is nearly ready.
The Song by Toad album that has sold the most over the years is most likely Murderopolis by Sparrow and The Workshop but the band no longer exists. We have the new record by B_DY P_RTS which features their singer Jill O’Sullivan who was also in the afore-mentioned Bastard Mountain.
We have borrowed microphones, microphone stands, amplifiers and complete PA systems from Matthew Toad over the years and tried to use the annual Record Store Day as a platform for at least one band on the Song, by Toad label. Others have borrowed A Fucking VAN! from him for a tour and many touring bands have been fed and put up for the night in his house, Toad Hall.
When we had the VoxBox Vinyl show on Edinburgh student radio, we had as our theme song Don’t You Touch My Fucking Honeytone by King Post Kitch. It was a single released by Song, by Toad of course. (Our show actually restarted in October and we will try to do a SBT Special on freshair.org.uk . Tune in Wednesdays 2100-2200)
10 years and a frightfully impressive legacy encompassing a blog, podcast, band sessions, record label, poster design, gig promotion, mini festivals, recording studio and even recently the best small venue in Edinburgh. I am looking forward to the new Toad release and I am pretty sure I voted for Siobhan Wilson as my album of the year for the SAY Award this year.
Siobhan WIlson – Knee-bendingly good
Matthew Toad helped bring lots of music to my ears and I just realised that this is reading like an obituary and the label is not yet dead or even asleep. It has not yet croaked, ahem, nor joined the Quire invisible nor become an Ex-Label and so on.
So on a positive, being only just still alive note. Bloody well done old chap! I love what you have achieved and you have set an incredibly high bar for everyone and I do not think Edinburgh’s music scene will see a renegade like you for a long long time.
Just so you know, when I started our own shop label, I used the Song, by Toad guide to releasing a record as a reference. Sadly, I can’t find it online anymore so I can’t link to it but being old fashioned, I printed it out and it is filed somewhere in chaotic fashion.
Thanks for releasing the Siobhan Wilson record too. I love the way she bends her knees a little sometimes when she sings. I would have loved it to have won the SAY Award this year and it would have been an awesome cherry on the cake after 10 years of the graft. But you were right -the world is wrong about music.
Thank you Matthew.
You’ll be back though?
Dead? Or sleeping?
We will be keeping the Song, by Toad section in the shop for as long as the shop exists and there are records to fill it although we will be sourcing spare records from the individual bands. I feel the label may well be talked about in the future in the same way that Postcard Records is today. This was a huge achievement! Many years from now these records may feature in a museum exhibit… Here is a link to all of the releases. You can listen to everything for free. Dip in from time to time.
“We all love Toad don’t we Mole? the mole nodded said “yes Ratty we can never forget Toad?…”
Silenced by death, in a grave sang Dolores on the Cranberries’ song Yeats’ Grave. A peon to the poet William Butler Yeats and his unrequited love for Maude Gonne. In the coda she sings the Yeats line “Why should I blame her, that she filled my days with misery, or would of late have taught ignorant men violent ways?”. He was a fascinating man and the Irish revere him in the way we Scots do Burns and as the Welsh do Dylan Thomas. He was an Irish Nationalist and member of the Fenian Brotherhood but didn’t support the newly formed Irish Republican Army although it sounds like the love of his life did.
That was from their second album No Need to Argue (1994). It was a subtle line but I picked it up as my surname is Yeats and because of that I have looked into the man’s life and works. After Dolores died a few record shop owners I know on Facebook said they thought the Cranberries and specifically the song Zombie were rubbish. I replied that I thought that very song, Zombie helped to speed up the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
I was young and naïve and at the University of Liverpool where many Irish go to study so I met a load of different people from Portadown, Belfast, Londonderry, Derry, The North of Ireland, Northern Ireland. You say potato, I say there was no famine, all the meat fish and vegetables were shipped to England and that’s why the Irish people starved*. Let’s call the whole thing off! We watched Sean Hughes live when he was tin and edgy and the Cranberries were doing their ting and according to Sean there were horses in all the towns of Ireland. A W.B. Yeats poem even made its way into the film Memphis Belle.
Ah, the old days…
What’s in your head? Seems an appropriate question to ask of terrorists then and now, but to me back then, it sounded as if it was aimed at all sides. She sings -With their tanks (UK) and their bombs (Nationalist) and their bombs (Loyalist) and their guns (everyone). It was a masterclass of a protest song about the Troubles and was about NOW. The exact time it was written and I am sure it helped turn the tide.
For something that was a part of British life for so long, it is a surprise to me that there are so relatively few songs about “The Troubles”. Stiff Little Fingers’ Alternative Ulster, Suspect Device and Wasted Life. U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday and erm McCartney’s Give Ireland Back to the Irish. There are a few more by The Pogues and others here. This was one for my generation -folk in their 20s in the 1990s.
Since opening the shop in 2011 and beginning to understand the music industry better the title of the Cranberries debut album has made more sense. Everybody Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (1993) A band asking why they can’t get signed/support slots/festival slots/radio play and so on. You need a good label. Dolores joined the band in 1993 so there were 3 years to get their songs together. A local label signed them and managed them for a bit. They were called The Cranberry Saw Us to begin with but importantly he sent the band’s demo tapes around and eventually they were picked up by Island Records and then they could. There have not been many big record company people talent spotting in Scotland or Ireland for many years now.
The debut album was huge and seemed to come out of nowhere proving that overnight success takes a load of time, self belief, talent (in this case) and perseverance.
The song Zombie was pretty powerful when it came out I think. People were sick growing up in an environment where you can go to catch a train and the roof of the station ends up being blown 20 foot in the air. The person that told me he witnessed that event seemed more annoyed that he missed his appointment. Terrorism and a military presence is a tedious and dull trudge for the ordinary folks that have to live with it. If you could pin a terrorist down, the question “What’s in your head? What’s in your heeeiad?” Seem to be the best to ask as it is rhetorical. It said we are sick of you eejits.
So I loved the first two albums yet I still haven’t heard the tird and later ones but I will try to do that someday. Some artists with a unique voice only have a few albums before the general public tire of them. Dido and Macy Gray come to mind. I read that she took her style of singing from copying her dad singing Eddy Arnold’s version of Cattle Call.
That’s a bit weird but I like weird.
I like a beer and a bath while listening to music too.
And thank you; you made a difference.
For those of you that may not know, VoxBox Andy has been with the shop for about 6 years and regular customers will know he has hardly had a day off. Folk reading this from further afield may not know that my longest serving employee is also a talented musician (guitar, moothie and keys) and when not recording his own Kosmic tunes, he crops up as a side man in bands from time to time. Playing guitar in the award winning Janis Joplin Full Tilt show during the last couple of festivals springs to mind but he’s always busy and busier still having had a baby boy last month. Congratulations Andy!
He is now performing in the Pat Smear role (the 2nd guitarist) in a band performing the entire MTV Nirvana: Unplugged in New York from 1993. MTV? Remember that? Wow, we are getting old… I was in 4th year at school when that album came out and turned 41 a few weeks ago. I remember that I could not afford to buy it at the time despite (or maybe because I was) stacking shelves in Presto for £1.82 per hour but I listened to someone’s CD I had copied onto cassette tape.
Anyway, a friend of Andy’s discovered he has Kurt Cobain’s singing voice and they gathered a group of friendly musicians together and the result is a near note perfect rendition of one of the greatest albums of all time. You know the bum note Kurt Cobain plays during the solo of The Man Who Sold The World? Yup, he plays that. I went to see the sold out first show at St Luke’s in Glasgow earlier this year and it was simply stunning. The singer doesn’t pretend to be Kurt and there is none of the “a guy tried to sell me Lead Belly’s guitar” type chat that is on the CD/DVD although I would definitely have been happier if he wore a baggier jumper. It had great reviews and I think it was only a matter of time, so I am very pleased to let everyone know that the band are touring and playing various Scottish dates next month as The Nirvana Unplugged Experience.
I had suggested to Andy the name Nirvanus as a tongue in (bum)cheek reference to the awful scatological names of some bands from that period. Butthole Surfers, Puddle of Mud, Fecal Matter and so on. I concede to being immature and that the name The Nirvana Experience will probably sell more tickets -the capitalist bastards. I was surprised to see that no Nirvana cover band has yet taken the name Smells Like Nirvana which, as it happens was the title of a parody song.
Other bands have done the MTV album and this band never even set out to be a “tribute” act as such, just to perform an album they love but they have hit on something and it works. As long as Andy gets a decent night’s sleep (new baby), I swear that this is the best you will ever hear. Coincidentally, the first National Album Day is October 13th and I hope they get a bit of publicity in the runup as I’m sure MTV will be featured as one of the best albums out there.
Here is a snippet of the St Luke’s performance:
Not long to go til we head out on tour. Can’t wait! If you want to hear the big note at the end you’ll need to buy a ticket ??14th Oct: Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling – bit.ly/2kCXO2219th Oct: Church Dundee, Dundee – t-s.co/nirv420th Oct: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – t-s.co/nirv326th Oct: The Assembly Aberdeen, Aberdeen – t-s.co/nirv217th Nov: Saint Luke's & The Winged Ox, Glasgow – t-s.co/nirv1
See them at these places:
14th Oct: Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling
19th Oct: Church Dundee, Dundee
20th Oct: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh
26th Oct: The Assembly Aberdeen, Aberdeen
17th Nov: Saint Luke’s & The Winged Ox, Glasgow
In case you are interested in a wee bit of Edinburgh music history. In late 1991 when Nirvana were in Edinburgh on tour, a local group – The Joyriders – discreetly invited Nirvana to do a benefit gig for The Sick Kids (children’s hospital) at The Southern bar, which back in ‘91, still put the odd band on. “A friend of a friend knew Nirvana’s tour manager and told me about the Southern gig… But it was treated as this kind of urban myth. Nobody knew if it was serious.”
It was a pleasure to welcome the BBC The Social team into the shop to film these wee pieces last year. These are a few nice short interviews with some friendly Edinburgh band members. Man of Moon and Indigo Velvet are playing The Tenement Trail in Glasgow soon (Both these bands have physical EPs out too -check out the band links below). Creative types should get in touch with The Social as they are always on the lookout for interesting content.
Anyway, the reason these interviews came to mind is that it is National Album Day on 13th October and I just opened an email about the PR that’s on the way. There is quite a lot it seems. I have lots of favourite albums but they change about from time to time. What is yours? What are yours? The killer question is when was the last time you actually played your favourite album? Go on, do it now… OK after you watch these 3 guys tell you about theirs…
This is Billy McMahon, drummer in Indigo Velvet. He catches up with the Record Shopping crew in VoxBox in Edinburgh to talk about one of his favourite records, Paul Simon- Graceland.
This record has been very influential for the whole band – Billy remembers his mum listening to it when he was young, in particular Graceland and Call Me Al.
It’s been a soundtrack to the band – it was on when they came off stage at T in the Park, they listen to it in the studio and in the car driving down to festivals.
Billy reckons if he hadn’t heard the record, they would still be writing heavy rock, Nirvana type tunes. The band are known for their bongos now – and they have Paul Simon – Graceland to thank for that!
Chris Bainbridge is the singer and guitarist in psychedelic two piece Man Of Moon. He caught up with the Record Shopping crew in Vox Box records in Edinburgh to talk about his favourite record, Unknown Pleasures by Joy division.
He was first shown this record by a mate when he was around 12, but it wasn’t until he saw the film Control that he really understood them.
When heading to band practice, Chris often puts on a bit of Joy Division to pass the time – it’s a big part of his life!
We went out for a spot of record shopping with Dan from Ava Love in Edinburgh’s VoxBox record store, and he chatted about his favourite record, Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
He loves this album for its ambition, it’s production, the amazing sonics, and for the baby tiger pictured inside. Ava Love’s Dan says his stand out track is Billie Jean. It’s one of those songs that is instantly recognisable based on the drum intro alone. There aren’t many songs that can do that like Billie Jean has. Without a record like Thriller, Dan believes a lot of people would be less ambitious with what they can do with pop music. And he really like’s that tiger…
There is an old Hawthorn Tree out the back where the old allotments were. The council turned the plot of land into a nature reserve many moons ago and the potting sheds were dismantled and taken away. The place has since been left to grow wild. I once found a pile of mostly broken panes of glass lying under the earth where presumably a greenhouse once stood. I can’t really remember why I was out with a shovel but that was what I found. An eight foot wooden fence stands between my back garden and that Hawthorn Tree.
When we first moved in we saw that the original wooden back fence had fallen in during a storm and later my cat had gone missing, feared lost in the overgrowth. There was a family of foxes living somewhere within and we worried that he would be in danger so I prised a hole in the wooden planks that were nailed together to make up the barrier and finally he found his way through. Looking for him in the late evening with torch in hand I had met Mr Fox. Eyes shining with torch glare he stared at me and held his ground on the path.
The previous owner of our house had twisted rolls of barbed wire along the perimeter of the garden so it felt like a prison and we lopped this away and threw it into the metal recycling with the small old metal fence that had rusted and fallen to bits as an overgrown hedge on the wild side of the back fence had managed to slowly push it apart with each year’s growth.
I then went to work clearing the area around the tree. It had become strangled with the tangle of a decade of bramble ropes that had arced up through and over it. There were masses of elder trees too that had spread higgledy-piggeldy all over the place and there was a field of nettles so high they stung the skin of my arms. Sticky willies stuck to my clothes and my cat and local pigeons, fat with gorging on elderberries, left black birdshit all over our garden path.
I saw an old apple tree and chopped a path through the bramble thicket to where it stands and found some wee raspberry bushes on my way. The fruits are smaller than supermarket ones as they struggle among their hardier cousins but sweeter in the mind because they are wild and free. There is a small gooseberry bush under the apple tree that produces hardly any leaves or fruit and I cleared it some space. A forager, I plucked some apples from that tree and took a few decent apples off the ground and made my way home with a box of blackberries and made us a crumble. It was delicious.
After two days of toil among nettles, thorns and barbed wire, some gloves were ruined and skin rudely violated. Red berries and blood look black once it gets dark. Finally, the Hawthorn Tree was free and could breathe. All of the nettles were trampled away and you could walk around a bit. I snapped off the small dead twigs and branches to tidy her up and she became a solitary tree among the surrounding thicket. It could maybe find use as home to a treehouse one day when we have kids I thought.
Not long after, our next door neighbour was burgled and in the months that followed a few empty beer cans would appear tossed into the bramble bushes near our Tree out the back.
The nettles were soon up waist high again as they never really went away. The nettle plants had died but their seeds and roots were still already in the soil. There is a new fence but no barbed wire. Some elder trees have sprung up in random places where the birds have been and will soon have berries ready to feed them once again. A shop bought raspberry plant on our side of the fence has now spread to the other side in the new wilderness.
Those brambles have spread again and there are thick prickled stems that rise up, up and away ten foot into the air through the branches to dangle their black fruit out of reach. Over summer, bees and butterflies fed on the blossom and the air is alive with flying things. Sticky willies cover the trunk.
Once I saw a mouse climb a raggedy dead nettle stem and eat the bunch of seeds that were still dangling like a spent phallus near the tip. He must have been hungry as he ignored the four of us watching. The path to the apple tree is overgrown again and all of the apples will be left on the ground.
From When I Wake The Want Is was released recently. It’s Kathryn Joseph’s second or third album depending on how you count them* and the songs were mostly written during a breakup and these songs poured out like spells. And everything is in there. A tree tangled with thorns. Some sweetness, the hurt, a mouse waiting for winter, nakedness, love, a fox and a cat, a standoff, the passion, words spat out and whispered, broken fences and poetry, the fear, vulnerability, broken glass under the earth, the lust and the hatred. Scratched and stung foraging wild fruit. This is a raw and wild record; its beauty and honesty is refreshing like stolen apples and as Summer turns to Autumn and the plants die off you are reassured that the new shoots of Spring are only a few months away. It helps to know that Kathryn’s story had a happy ending too. I do believe that a poem is a naked person and this is a poetic and hypnotic masterpiece which deserves to sell a million copies by Christmas. You should have a listen.
In Manx folklore, the first blackberries of the season should not be eaten but instead should be left for the fairy folk. If you ignore this advice, any others you pick will be full of grubs…
Folklore also says that you should not pick blackberries after St Michaelmas Day, September 29. According to Christian mythology, that is supposed to be the anniversary of the date Lucifer was thrown out of heaven and he likes to mark the occasion by peeing over everyone’s blackberry bushes.
*Second album is the Out Lines project with James Graham of the Twilight Sad. It is a contender for the SAY Award this year. Marcus Mackay plays on and produces all three of her albums.
Since beginning this I am very happy to say Kathryn was number one on the Record Store Chart last week after the vinyl sold out. Bring on the repress. A million by Xmas…
VoxBox Music became the newest record shop in the world on May 21st 2011. We buy and sell vinyl and other formats of music. We are independent and sell mostly pre-owned records although we are slowly branching into new vinyl too.