Monday, April 30, 2007


Disconsolation. Misery. Abject despair. If your a football fan then you will recognise these feelings. For some fans these days come around more often than those of other supporters, but ultimately all will suffer the slings and arrows of faithful devotion. And this is the time of year when it happens more often than any other. The pain of relegation. The disappointment of finishing one place outside of the play off positions. A play off final defeat. Either at the match or watching on television the misery is writ large on the faces of the supporters. Why do we do it? Just what is the point? The latest failure - after the majority of the season perched proudly at the top of Unibond Premier Division AFC Telford Utd are defeated at home by Burscough who take the title (and automatic promotion) in the process. Oh God why?

Roxy Music - In Every Dream Home a Heartache (mp3) (I still luv ya Bryan)

Squeeze - Another Nail In My Heart (mp3)

And the answer. Well I suppose everybody has their own agenda, but if you listen to Billy Mackenzie ('If there's a cure for this, then I don't want it') I think you'll get the idea.

Associates - Love Hangover (mp3)

Buy Roxy here, Squeeze here and Associates here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Architecture and Morality

The past week or two has seen the nations press in a state of frenzy (perhaps slightly overstated) over the comments made by Bryan Ferry to the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. For those who have been living in a bubble, the controversy surrounds his appreciation of the architecture of Albert Speer and the films of Leni Riefenstahl. The moral outrage has resulted in calls for M & S (that bastion of conservative middle class England) to rid themselves of the modelling contract with Ferry as an 'olive branch' to the people that he has insulted. For instance, Victoria Coren, writing in the Observer said that, 'they should drop the lame-brained Geordie ponce.'

Now I am not not going to make some apologist stance for Bryan Ferry. His comments, although probably meant in sincerity, were completely ill conceived. To go on about a facet of the Nazi regime, that was an intrinsic part of the way that Hitler and Goebbels intoxicated 1930's Germany with lies and deceipt was plain stupid. Especially without putting the thoughts into context. I'm sure most people realise that the iconography goes hand in hand with the political beliefs. But to say that nobody can admire the works of Speer or Riefenstahl for their 'quality' is equally misguided. Speers work was revolutionary. Riefenstahls films before the Nazi stuff were also very good. If we are going to argue that to admire their work is off-limits, then we should be equally severe with Wagner, Ezra Pound or W.B. Yeats.

The Nazis were evil. Hopefully, the vast majority of the worlds population know that. And of course we should never forget it. I hope that Bryan Ferry has not got any sympathy for them because I have long admired his work. But the debate, much like that over Joy Division, leaves a sour taste in the mouth. It just shows you how the shadow of some long dead tyrant like Hitler can linger very long.

Songs for today:

Belle and Sebastian - The Boy Done Wrong Again (mp3) Buy

Heaven 17 - We Dont Need This (Fascist Groove Thang) (mp3) Buy

OMD - Joan of Arc (mp3) Buy (from Architecture & Morality of course)

Monday, April 23, 2007

They Were Not Always Shit (honest)

First an apology for not posting sooner. Very, very busy at the moment. All manner of shit going down.

So now to the matter in hand and of course I expect to be ridiculed and lampooned unmercilessly. Yes it is Dire Straits. Yes I bought this album (from a little record shop in Hitchin I remember where I was very impressed that the shop owner knew the serial numbers to every record). And yes I still like it to this day. Unlike later efforts where Knopfler et al left all sense behind and embraced Americana with welcome arms, this has an honest simplicity. It is a million miles away from 'Money for Nothing'. You can tell it was made on a budget but not really because of the lack of production. In fact it is the lack of rock histrionics that sets it apart from the rock cliches that punk was trying to rid the charts of in the late seventies.

Disagree with me if you must, but this album is a gem.

Dire Straits - Southbound Again (mp3)

Dire Straits - Wild West End (mp3)

Buy Dire Straits here (buy any of the others at your peril)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Kings and Queens

Contrast Podcast has the theme of royalty for this week but, despite being an interesting topic to add my own contribution, I managed to somehow miss the deadline. You can find the link right here or look at the blogroll. This oversight is, of course, nothing new as I rarely seem to get round to doing the necessary thinking/recording/sending etc. I see this as a sign of either old age or laziness or stupidity. Probably all three. Anyway I thought I'd take the opportunity of adding my own recommendations to the already fine list below:


(00:58) The Sex Pistols - God Save The Queen
Heather from
I am fuel, you are friends

(04:44) Gruff Rhys - The court of King Arthur
Ross from
Just gimme indie rock

(08:25) The Battle of Land & Sea - Saltwater Queen
ZB from
So the wind won’t blow it all away

(12:00) Echobelly - King of the kerb
Crash from
Pretending life is like a song

(16:14) Bishop Allen - Queen of the rummage sale
Kate from
The Glorious Hum

(20:14) The King’s Consort - Nulla in mundo pax sincera
Cindy from
Adzuki bean stash

(27:03) House of Fools - Live and learn
Andy from
Circles of Concrete

(32:00) Elliot Smith - King’s crossing
Spoodles from
Robot Hand is the Future

(35:15) The Jesus Lizard - Queen for a day
Bob from
Gimme Tinnitus

(37:48) Reverend Horton Heat - King
Tom from
Other people’s toys

(41:00) Helicopter Helicopter - Talented socialites
Chip from
Atomic Ned

(44:22) Bitch & Animal - Drag king bar

(49:31) Okkervil River - A King and a Queen
The Duke of Straw from
The Late Greats

(52:57) The Kings - This beat goes on/switchin’ to glide
Natalie from

(59:07) Soft Machine - Kings and Queens
Mark from
Cinema du Lyon

(01:04:37) Richard Thompson - King of bohemia
Colin from
and before the first kiss

(01:09:05) Mary Lee’s Corvette - Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
Jarrod from
Living in fear is no good to anyone

And to that list you can enjoy a right royal knees up by listening to:

Wilco - Casino Queen (mp3) buy

David Bowie - Queen Bitch (mp3) buy

UB40 - King (mp3) buy

Queens of the Stone Age - Feel Good Hit of the Summer (mp3) buy

Prince - I Would Die 4 U (mp3) buy

Monday, April 16, 2007

And on the seventh day......

And so creation was over. Well it was for the record label which drew to close with 'Guerilla' by the Super Furry Animals. A shame for all concerned really as the label had nurtured and promoted the fortunes of many a good band/artist since the early eighties. I suppose the end of label that many considered to be the greatest of 'the independents' was inevitable. By getting into bed with Sony Alan McGee had set the ball of destruction rolling to its ultimate conclusion.

Still, at least the last genuine on Creation was a good one. Full of experimentation it marked a sea change for the Super Furries. Perhaps the winds of change move in opposite directions ...?

Super Furry Animals - Do or Die (mp3)

Super Furry Animals - Northern Lites (mp3)

Purchase some rather fine SFA here - and stay tuned for more Creation stuff in due course

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Face of Youth Keeps Turning West
The spectre of Ian Curtis, and the legacy of both Joy Division and New Order dwells long in some places. No more so than in the early work of The Beloved. I've blathered on about this band before and without wishing to repeat myself think that they were super-duper. Yes they lost their way later on, but for a couple of years produced almost perfect pop records. And now, of course, Jon Marsh has made his way as a very successful DJ - see here.

In the early period they received regular criticism from the music press for clinging to New Order's coat tails, especially in the bass lines and the production values. But more often than not they won their detractors over with some fine lyrics and, at times, frenzied guitars. Despite the hundreds of CD's on my shelves I still reckon that stuff by The Beloved is the most regularly played. Do people agree with me though? Do they heck. Despite all my best efforts, my pleas for recognition fall on deaf ears from the majority of my friends. I just don't understand. Horses for courses I suppose.

But I keep trying .....

The Beloved - This Means War (mp3)

The Beloved - If Only (mp3)

The Beloved - A Kiss Goodbye (mp3)

So come along, dust off your credit cards and buy The Beloved here. 'Happiness' for only £4.97 is the bargain of the century. Also checkout the free downloads on the Jon Marsh website here

Oh, and while your at it buy the amazing novel by Toni Morrison - 'Beloved' here - probably one the greatest reads you'll ever have

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Very Small World in the Middle of a Crowd

I've had 'best of' CD of The Ruts called 'Something That I Said' for a number of years but havn't played it in ages. Then I saw a review of the Clinton Heylin history of Punk and Grunge called 'Babylon's Burning' and decided to buy it. You can buy it too from here. Naturally this made me want to revisit the album and just as before I'm amazed by how much The Ruts achieved in such a short time.

Beginning in 1978 it was less than two years before lead singer Malcolm Owen died of a heroin overdose aged only 26. Other members of the band were Paul Fox on guitar, Vince Segs on bass and Dave Ruffy on drums. They had a really hard edge that attracted a similarly hard edged clientelle to their gigs, in particular the skin-heads of the late punk era. But because the band put forward a strong anti-racist stance this did not sit well with some of the fans and often the gigs would degenerate into violence. Some have said that this was a contributory factor in Owen's addiction although hard to prove.

There is little doubt that Owen had one of the finest punk voices of the era. His loss was at a time when The Clash were disappearing off to the States and was felt all the worse for that. Unlike the Pistols and the rest of the McLaren posse they dressed like the majority of the punk scene, and just seemed plain ordinary working class lads. After the death of Owen the band continued for three more years, but having the front man taken away left them in an unenviable position and they were unable to create the same success.

The Ruts - In A Rut (mp3)

The Ruts - Jah War (mp3)

The Ruts - Staring at the Rude Boys (mp3)

If you havn't heard The Ruts then take a listen and if you like what you hear then buy the albums here. A measly £6.98 for 'The Crack/Grin and Bear It' is a steal. If you have heard them take another listen and do the same.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Happy Birthday

I'm not sure how I feel about the blogging world acting as some kind of confessional or as a 'virtual shoulder' to cry on. For a start it kind of goes against the grain. I'm not exactly the 'cry on your shoulder' type, but I suppose dealing with a lot of unknown faces helps, so here goes.

Mrs Vicar and I had a lovely daughter who died. Her name was Beth. It was a long time ago, but the memory does not diminish. She would have been eleven today. She was only a year and a half old when she died and she was very sick, so in many ways she was released from a lot of torment. But there is still hardly a day goes by when I do not think of her. These days I mostly laugh at the memories rather than shed a tear so it is not a tortuous thing at all, in fact it's a celebration. Beth these are for you:

Paul Weller - Sunflower (mp3) buy

Van Morrison - Sweet Thing (mp3) buy

The House of Love - Shine On (mp3) buy

Tori Amos - Cornflake Girl (mp3) buy

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

DIY Monday

Spent the the whole of yesterday in the garden with Mrs Vicar and the vicarlets. We had looked out of the kitchen on Easter Sunday to realise that the garden was looking a little... well - crepuscular for want of a better expression. The conifer trees that went down the side and blocked the sunlight would have to go. So we set to work and started lopping and sawing with abandon. Only to realise, of course, that we would have to get up all the trunks and roots. But we managed it, hurrah, and now I ache. Oh god I ache - serves me right I guess for biting off a little more than I could chew.

Tracks for today are therefore:

Wilco - Forget the Flowers (mp3) buy

Pulp - Trees (mp3) buy

Ray LaMontagne - You Can Bring Me Flowers (mp3) buy

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The World's Most Flexible Record Label
Ahh, Stiff Records. I remember them with affection. Suddenly at the end of the seventies, to be really cool you had to be signed to a minor label. And, of course, these were the days when minor labels were really a minor label, not a phantasm, an illusion if you will of the kind of small scale label that exists in today's music industry. The media conglomerates still play this game of trying to convince you that the latest bright young things are 'superior' because they belong to the 'sweaty bollocks' label or something similar. And behind the label, skulking like some lardy monster is 'the major' with its corporate bosses chewing on a cigar, and drinking a brandy after their latest business deal. Sickening.

Back in the seventies it was different. The fatcats were still there, but there were also the true independents and one of them was Stiff. Rather famously, of course, Stiff had their "If it ain't Stiff it ain't worth a fuck" slogan, and this provocative stance increased the 'dangerous' feel of the label to spotty faced teenagers like myself. And then there were the artists themselves. Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello were there for a short time, while Ian Dury and Madness were there for much longer. In fact the single sales of Madness really kept the label afloat until its eventual demise in 1986, although it had already teamed up with the semi-independent Island records in 1983. Yes, it was the 'golden age' of the independents and Mr Vicar the cynic believes it is an age we will never see again.

Lene Lovich - Lucky Number (mp3) buy

Ian Dury & the Blockheads - Inbetweenies (mp3) buy

Elvis Costello - Less Than Zero (mp3) buy

The Damned - Neat Neat Neat (mp3) buy

Friday, April 06, 2007


For many people the nearest they ever get to Bristol is hurtling past on the M4 or M5. I, however, regard Bristol with rather more fondness. For a start I lived in Gloucestershire for a few years and Bristol was a short drive down the motorway. Apart from Gloucester Guildhall Arts Centre (and at a pinch the Leisure Centre) Bristol was the best place to go and see any bands. The gig by The Sundays (fuck, what year was that?) was just about the very finest that I have seen.

Anyway, I digress. What I really want to talk about is trip-hop, or at least the Bristol version of it which became known as 'Bristol-hop' or 'The Bristol Sound'. I suppose the sound really came out of the acid-jazz stuff that had been around since the late eighties - bands like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, or Arrested Development spring to mind. But suddenly everybody was talking about the trippy, spliff induced songs of Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky. They became the darlings of the music press and for a while it was impossible to remove them from the covers of 'Select', 'NME', 'Q' etc (well a slight exaggeration perhaps while grunge and brit-pop were fighting their wars). The atmospheric and dreamlike sound was quite clearly an extension of the changes taking place in the culture of the place. The docklands area was thriving and Bristol was becoming a much more 'cultural' place to live and work.

In the mid nineties, the three key albums of the movement were released. Massive Attack - 'Protection', Portishead - 'Dummy' and Tricky - 'Maxinquaye'. All were lauded and applauded and Bristol seemed to be the centre of the trip-hop world. The albums released afterwards though never seemed to reach the heights demonstrated in this burst of creativity and the 'Bristol Sound' was never fully realised. Mind, you only have to listen to the likes of Morcheeba or Moloko to understand their importance at the time. Not that I'm saying that either of these bands are that important - but you get the drift I hope....

Massive Attack - Inertia Creeps (mp3) buy

Tricky - Black Steel (mp3) buy

Portishead - Cowboys (mp3) buy

Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man - Tom the Model (mp3) buy
Bandwidth now sorted - thanks for your patience

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Away Day with Tutu Vicar

One of my favourite pastimes when visiting friends is to hunt through their record collections. This is, of course, a trawl through their lives and the records found therein contain a wealth of memories both happy and sad. Down in Cheltenham for the weekend I discovered these little gems. Hunky Dory is my favourite Bowie album and The Bewlay Brothers is my favourite track from it. You could make a case for just about any of the tracks on the album though. It is a perfect late night record.

David Bowie - The Bewlay Brothers (mp3)

I have been to this house hundreds of times and been to lots of parties. The Remix album of Kraftwerk is a party favourite. And the Jimi Hendrix is just for you Les.

Kraftwerk - Pocket Calculator (mp3)
Jimi Hendrix - Red House (mp3)

Please visit for more of the type of image you can see above. The tracks you see today are his!

Buy Bowie here and Kraftwerk here and Hendrix here