New info regarding Made Of Stone documentary!

Today I woke to read some very exciting news with regards to Shane Meadows’ (director of This Is England) upcoming documentary on The Stone Roses, entitled Made of Stone. It is due to open nationwide on June 5th with the band attending the premiere in Manchester on May 30th. The documentary will offer an in depth look at their reunion from their 2011 press conference to their triumphant reunion tour. It will feature rehearsal footage and official live footage of their comeback tour in August of last year, including the Heaton park shows. They visited Belfast as the final stop on that particular tour and I was unable to attend the show (although by some fortune I did end up with Ian Brown’s autograph but that’s for another post), so I’m hoping that I’ll see some footage of the Belfast gig. Really looking forward to this documentary!

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Northern Ireland’s Musical History: The Clash In Belfast

I’m posting this as today I received my copy of last year’s Uncut special magazine devoted solely to The Clash. I had toyed with the idea of getting it at the original time of publication but because I had only just began my investigation of their work at the time I decided against the idea. By the time I had discovered I had gotten really rather into them it was months after the magazine had gone off shelves and I thought it was too late. Thankfully Backstreet Merch rectified that (an excellent and prompt service too, I’d certainly recommend them). Anyhow, I was delighted to see that the magazine included a full article reprinted from a 1977 edition of Melody Maker that saw The Clash roaming the streets of Belfast (where I’ve lived all my life) following the semi-legendary tale of their gig being cancelled. It’s important to remember how different a place Belfast was then and big bands like The Clash playing wouldn’t have been commonplace. The pictures taken of the band in Belfast are really rather beautiful – although I am biased, of course – but my favorite is the one I’ve shared here. You can find more at Urban Images. I just love these images!

Hurts announce new single!

So Hurts have confirmed their second single from their new album Exile. The new single is Blind and will be released on May 12. I’m quite pleased with their choice of single. I’ll admit, as much as I like the song (and I like it rather a lot) I do feel there are better tracks on the album such as Only You, Cupid etc. Having said that I think the track has got real potential to do well on the charts, and I much prefer it to Miracle. Hopefully there will be a B-side for it!

On this Day: Pet Shop Boys perform Love Comes Quickly on TOTP

It’s just as the title says really, I just thought I’d share it because firstly I’m a huge fan of Pet Shop Boys. Secondly because I feel Love comes Quickly is one of their great forgotten singles. It’s from their first album, Please. Sadly it didn’t do as well as other singles from the album like Suburbia and the classic West End Girls in the charts. I’d actually regard it as the first truly classic Pet Shop Boys song along with West End Girls: it has such a beautiful atmosphere with some of my favourite lyrics Neil Tennat has ever wrote. I think I may even prefer to West End Girls by a fraction really. A brilliant track.

Miniature Tigers – Sex On The Regular

This is one of my favorite new discoveries in terms of bands. Well – I can’t say that I discovered them exactly. It was actually a very good friend of mine that recommended them to me. I’m so glad she recommended them to me because they are an excellent band. My favorite song of theirs so far is Sex On The Regular. It’s the opening track on their latest album, last year’s Mia Pharoh (I recommend the album heartily too.) A word of warning before we go any further – the song has lyrics that are…. just a tad on the sexual side, shall we say. They don’t leave much to the imagination, so lyrical analysis simply isn’t required for this particular song. It’s funny though because the arrangement of the song was so good I didn’t seem to grasp just how sexual the lyrics were until I re-read them for the purposes of this post. If those sort of lyrics aren’t your thing then you might want to look elsewhere. It’s not the lyrics I like this for though – its the irresistible arrangement/melody. As I mentioned earlier I didn’t even realize just how sexual the lyrics were at first and the arrangement is precisely the reason why. The arrangement reminds me an awful lot of Holiday by Madonna actually (although it is far from a direct copy). Listen carefully and you might pick it up too. I did a quick check online and it doesn’t appear to be credited as an official sample or anything so I guess it’s just a similarity. The other similarity comes in the vocals: for me the vocal performance sounds a little like Prince although that could be just me. I just love the vintage flourishes of the arrangement. It’s by far the most retro sounding song on Mia Pharoh though and even then it has a very modern sheen. Excellent song by an excellent band.

Pictures of interest: Electronic & Pet Shop Boys

L-R: Chris Lowe, Bernard Sumner, Johnny Marr, Neil Tennant.

As you could probably guess, I really love this picture. It’s a picture of Electronic (a duo comprising of Bernard Sumner from Joy Division/New Order and Johnny Marr of The Smiths). They’re in the middle, the two men standing either side of them are Pet Shop Boys. As you could probably guess – one of my absolutely favorite groups. I love this picture not least because I’m a big fan of these four muscians and all the various musical projects they’ve been part of (which is a huge body of work). It’s also one of the few pictures of Electronic with Chris Lowe. Last night I also finally discovered the origin of this picture, thanks to the excellent new Uncut special magazine on The Smiths which I thoroughly recommend. It was taken backstage at the Cities In The Park festival of August 1991 in Heaton Park which was in memory of Martin Hannet. Electronic played at the second day of the festival and they were joined onstage by Pet Shop Boys for a number of tracks. There was another backstage picture that the magazine had used though – but it was obviously from the same night. I had never seen that picture before so I think it was a rare shot. Anyhow I just really love this picture!

Nirvana – The Man Who Sold The World

From what I gather, Nirvana’s version of The Man Who Sold The World is widely regarded as one of the finest moments of their renowned Unplugged set. It’s one of my personal favorites too. It’s probably my favorite actually. It’s a cover version of the well known David Bowie song which was the title track from his third album. It’s also one of a number of cover versions Nirvana performed in the set Honestly though I do prefer Nirvana’s version, truth be told I’m a fan of David Bowie but The Man Who Sold The World is far from my favourite track of his. Anyhow the reason Nirvana covered the song I think is obvious: Kurt Cobain placed The Man Who Sold The World at number 45 (out of 50) in his list of all time favourite albums. Clearly Kurt Cobain was a fan of the song. Also, he clearly felt a deep emotional connection to the music. Just listen to his the yearning qualities his voice takes on in this track. The whole Unplugged performance has a lot of emotion…. but there’s just something about The Man Who Sold The World for me. And the music is utterly beautiful, for me the arrangement here is improved on Bowie’s originally. I also think Kurt Cobain’s vocals sound cleaner (for lack of a better word) and I prefer that too. It’s one of those songs that just knocked me for six the first time I heard it. I had liked what I heard of Nirvana and one of the first things I watched was Unplugged (thanks to recommendations). I had really enjoyed it up until that point but it was The Man Who Sold The World that finally sold me. From then on in I could say I was a Nirvana fan. Following Unplugged, the band actually introduced The Man Who Sold The World into their live set for the relatively short period from the Unplugged set to Kurt Cobain’s death. The Man Who Sold The World was actually a promo CD single too, released to promote the newly released Unplugged set in 1995. It was also on the Nirvana greatest hits album too. I could envisage this song introducing a lot of younger people to David Bowie (and turning some of them into fans even). In fact I even read that David Bowie had once been approached following a concert by a young person. The young person then said to him that it was cool to see him covering Nirvana! It just shows you what a good cover version can do. Although for me, this is one of the truly great cover versions. A gorgeous rendition.

The Clash – White Riot (Live)

Consider this a slight follow on to the previous post. This is from the Rude Boy film. It’s just one of the rather large amount of brilliant concert footage from that particular movie. Multiple performances of White Riot are in the movie actually but this is my personal favourite. It’s also my favourite live version of White Riot I’ve seen so far. The start with Mick Jones shouting at the bouncers is also very funny, and the late Joe Strummer is as sensitive as ever as he requests the crowd cool their tempers before launching into White Riot. Anyhow, just felt I would share it on anniversary of said song’s release.

On This Day: The Clash release White Riot

An important anniversary today for Clash fans. On this day 36 years ago, they released their first single of a blistering career: I’ll be honest: I prefer their later material to their punk stuff (although I still love the punk material). White Riot though I think is one of their best songs. It’s straight to the point and intense without any pointless faffing around. The first time I heard this song was about a year ago when I first began investigating The Clash. It blew me away then because its just has such a rousing and passionate feel even though the song predates my existence by 17 years. I can only imagine what the youth of the time felt like upon their first listen. Happy anniversary White Riot!

Pet Shop Boys – Essential

Hm, this is a strange compilation. This was originally released in 1998 as an exclusive release in only Japan and America. At the time of release, this had a lot of rare tracks – a number of which previously unavailable on CD.  The tracks are:
    1. Domino Dancing (Alternative Version)*
    2. West End Girls (Dance Mix)*
    3. Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money) (Original 7″ Version)*
    4. Paninaro (7″ Version)
    5. That’s My Impression (7″ Version)*
    6. We All Feel Better In The Dark (Extended Mix)*
    7.  It Couldn’t Happen Here
    8. It’s Alright (7″ Version)
    9. Left To My Own Devices (7″ Version)
    10. In The Night (Dance Mix)
    11. Two Divided By Zero
    12. Love Comes Quickly (Dance Mix)*
    13. Being Boring (Extended Version)*
* denotes that the tracks were previously unreleased on CD.

As you can see – a lot of the tracks here were rare to get at the time. 6/13 to be precise. Having said that on the 2001 remasters you can find all of these tracks (and more). As for the 7″ of Paninaro, you can find that on Alternative. There is one rarity here though: the 7″ of That’s My Impression. After checking it on the ever reliable/informative geowayne.com it appears that the mix here isn’t the same that was on Alternative, nor was it on any other official release. It appears to be an exclusive mix.

Having said that, I still disagree with the title of this album. Whilst this showcases some of my personal favourite official Pet Shop Boys mixes (Being Boring Extended Version, Domino Dancing Alternative mix) the title is misleading. For a big fan in 1998 this would have undoubtedly been essential: at that time these tracks were very rare indeed. Having said that those special edition albums (not to mention file sharing methods) has rendered this non-essential. I can’t see what would have enticed a casual fan to buy this though even then as it deals almost exclusively with lesser known Pet Shop Boys tracks.

So, do I recommend it? Yes and no. For the absolute completist (like myself) this is probably worth a purchase because it does contain that rare mix of That’s My Impression. Having said that is isn’t the definitive Pet Shop Boys compilation by a long shot. Casual fans and people looking for the Pet Shop Boys compilation to start with should stick to PopArt. Even for bigger fans there’s more interesting Pet Shop Boys CD’s to get before this. Unless you are a particularly big fan of That’s My Impression. Personally, it’s one of my least favourites on Alternative which is a big reason why I haven’t bothered purchasing this yet. My advice? For big fans its worth a purchase but I’d recommend things like Mini PSB before I’d recommend this. It also doesn’t appear to be that rare from what I’ve seen: I can import it from US for a relatively low price (second hand that is). In brand new condition though it would be much rarer I’d say. For what it’s worth, I’d say I’m a bit of a completist and I still haven’t bought this yet.