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The return of Melodic Randomiser Unspooled…

I thought it was time to delve once more into the little plastic boxes of nostalgia that make up my vintage cassette collection, just because I haven’t done a Melodic Randomiser post for a while and it seemed like a good idea.
The box I dragged out from under the stairs this time is as eclectic a selection as any of them and this one offered up a fine juxtaposition of styles.

First we have the epitome of ’90s indie pop, Travis, with their debut album, Good Feeling, from which I’ve picked my favourite single, All I Want To Do Is Rock

….followed by Hey Dude, by hippy rockers Kula Shaker, from their first album, K

…and completing this most unlikely trio with the full album of the frankly unhinged Captain Lockheed And The Starfighters by bonkers Hawkwind alumni, Robert Calvert:


So there you have it, a playlist you won’t find anywhere else, I hope you find something to enjoy.

Stay tuned for further trips back in time in the not too distant future.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2017 in Blogging, Melodic Randomiser, Music, Video

 

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#atozchallenge: C is for cassette (Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 7)…

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is for cassette.

As anyone who follows this nonsense will know, I have been gradually working my way through my audio cassette collection for a while and I thought that this third edition of the A-Z challenge would be the ideal time to add a new Melodic Randomiser Unspooled post.

Today’s trio of tapes are all ’90s British classics, starting with Blur and their debut album, Leisure, here for you to enjoy in its entirety…

…followed by Black Grape, the side project of ex-Happy Mondays frontman, Shaun Ryder and their It’s Great When You’re Straight, Yeah album, from which comes this, In The Name Of The Father

…and finishing off with another Manchester band, Inspiral Carpets and possibly their greatest moment, This Is How It Feels, from the Life album.

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Just Jot It January: Day eight. Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 5…

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I’ve chosen to use today’s Just Jot It January post to bring you 2016’s first edition of the musical retrospective rummage sale that is the Melodic Randomiser Unspooled, my tape shuffle jukebox.
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So if you like ’80s pop, shouty ’90s metal, or tripped out, reggae-tinged dub, this is the post for you.

First up, everyone’s favourite blond bombshell, Ms Ciccone herself, Madonna and the early career remix album You Can Dance.
Here, in its flamboyant, shoulder-padded glory, from the deluxe edition no less, is Where’s The Party

…which segues not at all smoothly into the angry, angst-ridden noise of Danzig and their imaginatively titled album, 4, from which comes this cheery little number, Brand New God

…and ending with another complete change of pace and direction with the sublime groove of Sabres Of Paradise and the cassette single of Wilmot.

Now, you don’t get that on Radio 2.

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Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 4…

After much burrowing around in the cardboard box and carrier bag breeding ground of our under-stairs cupboard, today I managed to haul out the second box of rattling plastic nostalgia cases that is my cassette collection.

Throwing caution to the wind, I blindly grabbed a trio of magnetic memory magnifiers and slotted the first one into the stereo before I’d even checked to see what it was.

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So you can imagine my delight (or maybe you can’t, you might not be so easily pleased) when this next installment in the trip through my own personal musical heritage began with an album that gave us the best song from the soundtrack to a movie cult classic, the wantonly strange Donnie Darko (which, if you haven’t seen it, go find it and watch it).

The Church are not, in the UK at least, a hugely well-known band, hailing as they do from Sydney, Australia. But this song (as well as featuring one of the only acceptable uses of bagpipes in pop) is an instant earworm. It appears at a pivotal point in the movie and perfectly captures the dreamy and surreal tone of Donnie’s world.

Here it is then, from 1988, The Church and the sublime Under the Milky Way Tonight

…plus, if you liked that and because I’m feeling generous, why not check out the full album, Starfish, while you’re at it.

From antipodean indie to U.S. political hip hop and rap/rock, the next stop on our eclectic journey brings us to a tape that was put together for me by an old friend from Sussex (hello Chris) and it tackles themes that are, somewhat depressingly, just as relevant today as they were in the early ’90s.

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy were an astute and politically aware hip hop four-piece from San Francisco who, despite their short lifespan, (they split after only three years) provided us with one of the most memorable rap anthems of the era.
Their album, Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury, was one long rant on the state of America at the turn of the twentieth century’s final decade, and although it’s filled with angst, it sidestepped the “cop killer” attitude of many rappers by concentrating on social issues and generational injustices.

Of the two tracks I’ve chosen from that first blistering album, this is the one you’re most likely to remember, Television, the Drug of the Nation

…and this, the album’s opener, is just as apposite in 2015, here is Satanic Reverses.

But if proper, eye-popping, vein-bulging anger is more your type of political poison, look no further than the other side of today’s tape two.
Because there you will find some truly furious men, the no-holds-barred riffing monster that is Rage Against the Machine and their ground-breaking eponymous debut album.

I could have picked a couple of the less well known tracks to play you, but there really is nothing that compares to their signature anthem from 1991, the musical steamroller they call Killing in the Name

…and I’m going to follow that with a performance I was fortunate enough to witness, the apoplectic Bullet in the Head, live from Reading Festival in 1996.

Which brings us to the final selection in today’s trawl of the tapes, lightening things up a bit with some American new wave pop from The B52’s and their ’89 breakthrough album, Cosmic Thing.
I could go the really obvious route and play the massive worldwide smash hit, Love Shack, but instead I’m going for two of my favourites.

First of all, here’s Roam

…and to complete this visit to the archives, let’s all join the Deadbeat Club.

Thank you for listening.
And as always, remember: Be kind, rewind.

 

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Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 3…

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Welcome back to the fragile plastic box of delights that is the prequel to the CD Melodic Randomiser, a selective plundering of my huge collection of cassette tapes, some of which are approaching forty years old and still going strong.

This selection is made up of music from the eighties and early nineties (the closing half of the cassette’s glory days) both from this side of the Atlantic and the other, not to mention the other side of the border and across the Irish Sea too.

The first of today’s trio is one of two compilations, this is one called Absolution and is themed around what I suppose you would call the indie-goth sound.

The first half is livelier, more spiky and abrasive, with side two demonstrating the introspective side of the genre, building to an angry, bass driven, post-punk classic.

I keep feeling the need to use that word, classic, but it can be applied to so many songs here, including this, from arch-miserablists Echo and the Bunnymen and their 1983 hit, The Cutter

…then there is this, my all-time favourite David Bowie cover, the Bauhaus version of Ziggy Stardust.

Closing side one is a bona fide goth anthem, The Jesus and Mary Chain with the wondrous Some Candy Talking.

Side two starts softly and becomes darker as it goes on, with Enjoy the Silence from Depeche Mode

…followed by the surprisingly gentle and sophisticated tones of The Stranglers with this, European Female

…and Absolution ends with a thundering beast of a song, New Model Army‘s No Rest, which is so good, I’m giving you the full album.

You’re welcome.

Tape two is another much-played favourite, a solo project from Husker Dü frontman, Bob Mould, and I’ve chosen the single, If I Can’t Change Your Mind from Sugar‘s 1992 album, Copper Blue.

If you like that and want to hear more, you can listen to the whole album HERE.

Which brings us to the last of my random selections for today, a slightly poppier affair, compiling some upbeat chart hits from Scottish and Irish bands of the nineties, from which I’ve picked Orange Juice and their biggest single, Rip It Up

…this unlikely hit from the fabulously named Goats Don’t Shave and Las Vegas (in the hills of Donegal)

…and I’m finishing this third dip into my magnetic archives with an absolute, genuine, fully-fledged, copper-bottomed pop (yep, I’m gonna use that word again) “classic”, the sublime Somewhere In My Heart from Roddy Frame‘s Aztec Camera.

Go on, sing along, you know you want to.

I hope you can join me again soon for the next spool back into the past and in the meantime, remember…
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Posted by on August 9, 2015 in Melodic Randomiser, Music, Video

 

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Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 2…

Time to trawl the tapes once more and play you some retro tunes from my misspent musical youth.

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Today’s selection from the nostalgic boom box is made up of a magazine freebie, another tailor-made mixtape (with bonus anecdote) and a chil-out classic, so let’s get on with the music.

Q Magazine has been my favourite monthly music publication, ever since I bought issue 11 (featuring cover stars Morrissey and Roger Waters) many, many years ago. 
One of the cool things about it was that there would often be free cassettes on the cover (and later, CDs) many of which were loosely themed.
The thread that runs through Livin’ in the ’80s is a pretty straightforward one, compared to some of the more obscure and tenuous collections they managed to crowbar together and it contains some bona fide pop masterpieces.

First up are a pair of electro-pop classics, starting with the Human League and this single from the groundbreaking “Dare” album: Love Action (I believe in love)

…followed by the 80’s most whistleable tune about nuclear devastation, OMD and their peon to the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Enola Gay

Side two mixes it up a bit, starting with this raucous stomp from Killing Joke, the anthem of the decade, Eighties

…and continuing in a gentler vein with Culture Club and a tune I’ll dedicate to my wife, Rhonda, who apparently strutted her stuff to this at every ’80s disco; here’s Time (Clock of the heart)

The second of today’s tapes is a compilation that was made for me by a friend in Sussex in the early ’90s, from just a tiny fraction of his enormous record collection.

He went by the nickname “Tufty” at the time and he was, like me, a massive fan of the late, great John Peel, a fact which resulted in him suffering a highly amusing and rather public embarrassment in our local pub, The Wheatsheaf in Crowborough, (where he worked as a barman) which I’m guessing he would rather forget.

However, I haven’t forgotten and I’d like to share it with you now.

John Peel had a brother.
This isn’t an especially interesting piece of information, except when coupled with the fact that this brother lived opposite the aforementioned pub and was one of the regulars.

One day, Francis, for that was his name, came into the bottom bar of the pub with a visitor in tow (it’s an old, split level building, with the public bar at the top and a sunken lounge on the opposite side of the central serving area) and this visitor looked uncannily like our musical saviour himself, complete with trademark beard.
Plus, he was with Francis, who else could it be?

Sitting in the top of the pub, looking down into the lounge, those of us who cared about such things instantly began discussing whether this was in fact the champion of all things musically cool and if so, would etiquette, coolness and/or star-struck hero-worship permit anyone to approach the great man for a few pearls of his no doubt affable wisdom?

No such procrastination for Tufty however, who immediately went into paroxsysms of delight that such a member of radio royalty would grace the bar with his saintly presence.
He immediately informed us that he was going to introduce himself to John, offer to buy him a drink and attempt to engage the great man in conversation.

The rest of us watched with a mixture of interest, envy and amusement as Tufty, never knowingly short of words, shyly sidled up to Francis and his companion and waited for his chance.

At the earliest opportunity that decency would allow, he politely interrupted, pint in hand, and spoke thusly to the illustrious visitor:

“John, I’d just like to say that I’m a huge fan and it would be an honour if you would allow me to buy you a drink.”

…at which point, the object of his adoration turned to him with a puzzled smile and said;

“Well that’s very kind of you, I’m afraid I’m Francis’ other brother. but thank you for the drink.”

Needless to say, it took a while for my impulsive friend to live that down, but he does compile a very fine mixtape, so let’s get back to the music.

I’m going to pick four from Tufty’s compilation too, simply because it’s got a fantastic range of songs on it and I couldn’t narrow it down any further.

An unexplainably underrated British band from the ’90s, Kitchens of Distinction never got the recognition or hits that they deserved, so to redress the balance in some small way, here is their third single, The 3rd Time We Opened The Capsule

…along with a song you may know, but a version you may not have heard, this is Trisha‘s cover of Tracy Chapman‘s track, She’s Got Her Ticket.

But I’ll end tape with a pair of cheerful chunks of ’90s guitar pop the first of which is Lancashire’s Milltown Brothers, with 1991’s Which Way Should I Jump?

…and the second is the sublimely jangly Heavenly Pop Hit from New Zealand’s Martin Phillipps and his revolving musical project, The Chills.

Which brings us to the final entry in this chapter of my magnetically memorized musical marathon, tape 3 is a bit of a departure from the rest but just as great in its own way for all that.

So here, in its chilled-out, cosmic entirety, is The Orb and the epic Orbvs Terrarvm

Stay tuned for more archive dredging in the not too distant future, may your spools stay loose and your tape never crumple.

Until next time…

 

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Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 1…

image Welcome, one and all, to the first installment of this new archival plundering of my music collection, this time via the little plastic cases of wonder/frustration we folks from the olden days knew as cassettes, or simply “tapes”.

Melodic Randomiser Unspooled will follow the same pattern as the CD version; I shall occasionally dip into my vintage cassette library, progressing through the various boxes of pre- and  home-recorded albums and compilations, posting videos and links to whatever random example of magnetically preserved masterpiece takes my fancy from each trio of tapes.

Since the same principal of chaotic disorganization that ruled my CD racks has been applied to storing my tapes, you never know what sort of strange brew you’ll end up with, with today’s first mixtape being a fine example.

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The Steve Miller band had several pretty big hits, one of them briefly resurrecting Steve’s career, by way of its use in a jeans commercial, although the  track I’ve chosen today isn’t one of his most memorable songs.
This is probably due to the fact that it comes from the 1984 release, Italian X-rays, a bad enough name for an album as it is, without adding insult to injury by swamping any remaining musical credibility with horrible cheesy ’80s synth lines.

I thought I’d go the whole hog and play the one track that’s completely synth-based. I mean, when you’re dealing with cheese, there’s no point in going for half measures is there?

Here’s Bongo Bongo, terrible eighties animated video and all.

Next up, a mixtape in itself, one made for me by a friend, (that noble, pre-internet tradition of music sharing; Hello and thank you, Nick) kicking off with Side One, Various Artists and the first of two tracks, Richard Warren‘s multi-genre project, Echoboy and a song called Kit And Holly

…followed by another man whose style is impossible to pigeonhole, Johnny Dowd and the fabulous Monkey Run.

Side two has a definite theme, beginning with a few songs from Talking Heads Fear Of Music album and I’ve chosen this characteristically spiky offering, Paper

…segueing nicely into a couple of solo David Byrne songs, my favourite of which is this joyously percussive slice of eccentrica, Look Into The Eyeball.

So far, so varied, but tape number three ups the eclecticism ante somewhat, containing as it does a radio recording from ten years ago.
BBC Radio’s One’s “Peel Day” was a celebration of the life and work of veteran DJ, champion of unsigned bands and national treasure, John Peel, who tragically died one year earlier.
The live, all night broadcast featured interviews, live performances and archive sessions by bands and artists who had been mentored by John, had appeared on the show, or were simply inspired to make music by listening to his legendary late night transmissions, from both the BBC and the studio at his family’s home, “Peel Acres”.

The first track that came on when I pressed play (sacrilegiously, the tape hadn’t been rewound!) was instantly recognisable as one of the so called “world music” artists to get regular airplay on John’s show, Kanda Bongo Man.
Listening to Peel was what introduced me to the frenetic rhythms of African music, especially the sort of lively guitar sounds associated with music from Soweto and the Belgian Congo (now called Zaire).
This song from the Congolese superstar reminds me of that thrill of new musical discovery, all those years ago.

This is Sai.

Then, in typical Peel fashion, I was treated to this historic live session recording of Whole Lotta Love by rock’s Golden Gods, Led Zeppelin, from way back in 1969.

Side two of the last in my opening salvo of jukebox tom-spoolery begins with something that, again, couldn’t be more different, a live performance from hardcore electronic experimentalist, Kid 606 and from that set I’ve chosen this, the original video for The Illness.

Which only leaves us with the final song they played in tribute to one of radio’s greatest exponents of new music, the song of which John Peel once said;

“If they ever do a tribute show for me when I die, this’ll be the last song they play.”

A fitting end then, to the inaugural post of the Melodic Randomiser‘s return; ladies and gentlemen, please be upstanding for Roy Harper and When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease.

Thank you for listening.

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