Collection: New Order

(L-R roughly): Power, Corruption and Lies, Lowlife, Brotherhood, Technique (all 2CD Special editions), Republic,Get Ready, MOJO Magazine from 2012, Waiting For The Sirens Call, The Best of New Order, Total, Substance, Power, Corruption and Lies (Covers CD that came with MOJO), New Order Story DVD, Fine Time 7”, New Order Live in Glasgow DVD, New Order Live DVD, Joy Division/New Order NME Special from 2012, New Order: From Heaven to Heaven book, old 90’s NME with Bernard Sumner on the cover.
What’s not in the picture: two tickets for New Order’s cancelled Belfast gig in June of 2012, Blue Monday 12”

I absolutely love New Order, one of my favourite bands ever most definitely. I first heard of them when I was about 12 when my dad told me listen to Blue Monday, but I only became a fan of them (and Joy Division) two years ago. I’ve got quite a bit of New Order material but – completest that I am – I still have a few bits I want. The big thing I’m missing is the 2CD edition of their debut album Movement. I’m also missing two more DVD’s and some various other CD’s like Peel Sessions and what not. I’m particularly desperate for their In Sessions CD – its rare as sin though so goodness knows when (if ever) I get that

Rarest item I have: Almost without doubt the From Heaven to Heaven book. I got it for Christmas 2012 after it remained in the same shop for a year, my copy is a numbered first edition though that was signed by the author and came with a genuine unused New Order ticket from a Birmingham show. The best part is that I didn’t even realize it was a rarer edition until i got it! The old NME wouldn’t be the easiest to find now either though I’d imagine.

Treasure Tuesday: Great Hacienda Mini Documentary!

This week’s little gem isn’t something I found – it actually was sent to me last by a dear friend. How this one escaped me, I’m not sure because I’ve watched a fair few videos relating to the Hacienda on Youtube. Anyhow, this is an excellent little watch for all of you out there who – like me – love the legendary nightclub and anything connected to Factory Records in general. It’s brief at eight minutes but it contains an awful lot of footage. Very interestingly, the video is presented by Factory mastermind Tony Wilson’s son, called Oliver. It was very informative and taught me things I didn’t actually know. For example, I had no idea that a cafe inspired by the Hacienda was opened in Chorlton (I really need to go there someday). Also despite its short lentgh, the video contains interviews with key people in the Hacienda saga: Shaun Ryder, Peter Hook and Mike Pickering for instance. It’s short, but very sweet and well worth a watch!

Pet Shop Boys – Axis

Consider this a follow up post to the previous one (so much Pet Shop Boys news to digest today which I love.) So Electric and USA tour dates wasn’t the only announcement last night, there’s also the minor deal of a new Pet Shop Boys song! The name of it being Axis. It’s the full version of the same track that served as the Electric teaser from a few months ago, and if I had to describe the track it would be simply “classic Pet Shop Boys”. It’s hard to articulate just what I’m trying to say, but I think anyone who wanted them to return to their more 80s sound should find much to like about Axis. That being said it still sounds very modern and fresh so its by no means simply a rehash of their past work. Far from it, actually. There’s also minimal lyrics in the song. I was wondering (and even expecting really) that the teaser was just a snippet of the introduction  to the song and that lyrics would come to play a greater role. Alias, they don’t. That’s very much like the tracks on Relentless really. I guess you could say Axis (and Electric as a full record) is a bit like a 2013 sequel to Relentless. On a bigger scale obviously though because as Pet Shop Boys fans will know, Relentless isn’t technically a studio album. Axis also has both Neil and Chris’ voices (slightly digitized) saying things like “electric energy” and “turn it up”. It makes me think every so slightly of Time On My Hands from Disco 3.  The minimal lyrics are no bad thing though, when you think of it logistically their last few records haven’t been dance-floor oriented (bar parts of Yes). They’ve been pretty complex songs really. I was hoping that Elysium’s follow up would be more “up” so to speak so its all good for me. The song also has an accompanying video. Already I far prefer it to the two lackluster videos for Winner and Leaving. It’s got plenty of strobes which suits the nature of the track perfectly but in true Pet Shop Boys style there’s a twist. The video also has rather creepy imagery of two figures (although not Neil and Chris) dancing in some sort of goat head masks. It’s similar imagery to what was seen on the first Electric tour date in Mexico last month. I have no idea what significance (if any) these goat heads are supposed to have. It’s rather mythological looking but what I can say is that it’s definitely an interesting and unusual concept which is more than what the Elysium era imagery had. I had high hopes for the music of Electric and so far I’m very pleased with Axis. I’ve played it about five times now and every time I hear it I’m loving it more and more. The last 90 seconds of the song I’m particularly addicted to. Those who felt that Pet Shop Boys were past their best with Elysium fear not – I’ve a feeling Electric is going to be one of their best albums if Axis is anything to go by.

Pet Shop Boys – Axis & Electric Announced!

So, for music news today there’s only really one thing you can expect me to post about, isn’t there? Its been on the official Pet Shop Boys site for the last 13 hours or so but that was around 1am local time for me so I just decided to go to bed. That aside, we now finally know the release date, artwork and the first single for Electric! They’ve also announced the full set of tour dates for USA so I hope all US fans are able to make it to at least one show. Now, back to Electric! It’s going to be released on July 15th – although international dates will vary – on Pet Shop Boys own new label: x2 (which is pronounced “times two”). The album contains nine tracks with one of these being a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s track The Last To Die. Also the rumors that there was a song entitled Love Is A Bourgeois Construct are true as that appears on the album. If nine tracks sounds rather short, the album does clock in at around the fifty minute mark so from the sounds of it the tracks will average around five minutes in length: very much like Relentless did. The overall sound for Electric then? It’s going to be a complete reaction against Elysium: its “pretty banging” to directly quote Pet Shop Boys. That’s not a huge surprise as the album is produced by Stuart Price. He’s worked with Pet Shop Boys before on the Pandemonium tour and he’s also produced Madonna’s acclaimed Confessions On A Dancefloor. He’s one of my favourite producers and I was hoping he’d produce a Pet Shop Boys album at some point actually. All very exciting news indeed! There’s also a collaboration on the album too, the track Thursday will feature British electro rapper Example. Truth be told I’m not a big fan of Example and I wouldn’t have expected Pet Shop Boys to work with him but never the less I’m intrigued as to what they’ve come up with. As for the new single, its called Axis and it sounds great. I will go into Axis in more detail in a follow up post to this one but let’s just say its classic Pet Shop Boys and so far reactions to it seem very positive. Far more positive than when Winner was released. I personally really liked Elysium but I feel Electric is shaping up to blow it out of the water, and it feels like there’s more hype and excitement surrounding it. I thought Elysium had a quiet sort of campaign but this feels like its all guns blazing which is great. Roll on July 15th!

To purchase Axis via Itunes or to preorder the vinyl/CD of Electric click here

Monday Memories: My first concert.

Well, I guess its open to interpretation really as I didn’t actually pay to see this show (all will be explained). Although I did see the show in its entirety so I personally count it as my first gig. That minor disclaimer done and dusted, its time to go back sixteen years in time…

I want to take you all back to August 26th, 1997. It’s the tail end of the summer holidays and the Autumn season is just approaching. This doesn’t matter one iota to me though, I had just turned three years old and still thought that school was for big people. Elsewhere in the city, U2 are preparing to unveil their extravagant PopMart show to their Northern Irish fanbase, in Botanic Gardens specifically. That morning, mum takes me on the very short walk from our old residence in Annadale flats, down along the embankment of the River Lagan where I can hear a thunderous din. I don’t know what on earth is going on, but I don’t like the sound of it. U2 are sound-checking, but the sheer loudness scares the absolute wits clean out of me. I start screaming and crying and I beg mum to take me home. Sadly, I would have to wait a few moments – mum meets a friend and talks to them briefly. That wall of sound is scaring me to the point where time slows down however. In reality she would have spoke to her friend a moment or two, but to me it felt like centuries. Anyhow, I go back to my quiet home.

Belfast 1997. Not my image.

Later that night I venture out again: this time for a total free view to the show. Across from our old flat, there is a hill. The hill overlooks Botanic Gardens where the gig takes place. And due to the angle of the stage, you can see the whole stage in all it’s extravagance. It’s not just us there though, many people come out in force for this free viewing. We probably get a better view than most of the paying audience to be perfectly honest. And a striking show it is too. With it’s semi-McDonalds M and giant lemon, it’s sure to leave a lasting visual imprint even on the eyes of this three year old. I ask mum is that really Bono there and why on earth is there a giant M type shape, and I spend the entire evening dancing around and thoroughly enjoying myself…. its my first foray into live concerts…

And now back to 2013. I wish I could give you more detailed memories of the show, but unfortunately my memories of the show are very hazy to say the least. I can distinctly remember dancing a lot and asking mum questions out of sheer bemusement and not much else. Looking back at the set list for the first time in years though, I honestly wish I could remember more. I’ve always really liked U2 – I loved The Sweetest Thing when it was released and I’d cite Achtung Baby is one of my favorite albums. I even really like Pop, the album that PopMart was supporting. They performed songs that I would in subsequent years grow to love like Mofo, Pride and Where The Streets Have No Name. They would even perform a cover of a song I’d consider one of my most favorite ever: The Doors – Break On Through. Sadly the music was lost on me at that age: it was more about the overall experience of being there. Not to mention I spent more time being entertained by the zany stage design. Not the flashiest first gig experience I know, but its my first gig experience nonetheless!

The fair came to town.

So a new opportunity for some record browsing came up yesterday. A record fair was in Belfast, in the Oh Yeah music center. I’ve never actually been to a record fair. When I was much younger my family used to love going to such events that were held in the now defunct Maysfield Leisure center. Sadly, these fairs predated my music listening by a few years. They sound like my idea of heaven now though. Flicking through racks upon racks of old records and that thrill when you stumble across a hidden gem. It’s a feeling I personally adore when I’m in the usual record stores even. The fair today though did bring back childhood memories of going around an old record shop called Dougie Knight’s with my dad, which has now closed down. He could spend hours in there I’m telling you. The funny thing being – it used to annoy me. Looking back, when I think of the amount of records I could buy in there now if it was still open…

Anyway, the Oh Yeah center is well placed to hold such an event. It has become one of the most exciting projects in Northern Ireland in recent years. Their mission statement being to “Open Doors To Music Potential”. Considering the variety of events and exhibitions it holds, it’s fulfilling its mission statement and more. It has received investment from a variety of organizations. One of these has a strong link to one of my favorite artists too. Two of the rehearsal rooms were created in partnership with Strummerville (the charity set up in memory of Joe Strummer) and are decorated in pictures of him and the like. I didn’t get to see them yesterday however. Anyhow, there was really interesting local music memorabilia in the downstairs part (where the fair was situated), including signed Stiff Little Fingers LPs, which appeals to repressed 70s punk in me. A very informative timeline also detailed major releases by local artists over the years. Just looking at it yesterday made me realize that Northern Ireland has a vibrant music scene that it doesn’t get enough credit for. I just wish that we’d concentrate more on that side of Northern Ireland rather than our complex political situation.

I digress though- the actual fair was very impressive and it comes highly recommended! A lot of people seemed to agree with me, the place is absolutely bunged the whole time I was there (which must have been nearly an hour). No joke, I literally did stumble over a few people which can only be a good thing. The variety of records was great too Also, there was a ton of vinyl racks in a wide variety of genres which will satisfy those of you who collect vinyl. I did find Clash City Rockers by The Clash  on 7″ (the song itself was actually playing when I found it ironically too) . A pointless purchase it would have been though because I have their complete singles boxset on CD. Come to think of it there was a lot of punk stuff at the fair. Particularly of Sex Pistols but there was a fair deal of Clash stuff too. I have all the official Clash CDs though so none of it was new to me. A lot of Ramones also but I’m not clued up enough on them yet to just buy their albums at will.

It’s very common to go to these sorts of places with a record in mind. My mission yesterday was simple:  to find Joe Strummer’s Earthquake Weather album. I was hoping to find the little gem because like I said earlier, there was quite a lot of punk records. Alias, no such luck – but that album is pretty rare. I would have been very surprised if I found that actually. I did find the first Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros album though but I want to get the remastered edition so I just left it.

That’s not to say I didn’t find some gems though, far from it actually. I bought six CDs and they were all great quality. The Beatles’ Revolver looks brand new and was considerably cheaper than usual. I had been after that Madonna DVD/CD set for years also, and I had wanted greatest hits of both The Velvet Underground  and John Lennon for a while also. I honestly didn’t expect to end up with as much as what I did. I had decided that if I didn’t spend much money at the fair I would go to Head and pick up Depeche Mode’s new album and the new reissue of Electronic’s self titled debut. In the end I couldn’t do that – I didn’t have enough left over. And the six CDs I bought weren’t the only ones I was considering.  There was also a few albums I very nearly purchased by M83 & Depeche Mode but I did have to leave something for others to buy, didn’t I?

All in all though I’m very pleased with what I found and I eagerly await the next fair. This is the sort of thing I really urge local music fans to fully get behind and support. There’s not many places in obtain records in Northern Ireland and it’s imperative that we do our utmost to help maintain the opportunities we have.

Collection: The Clash Singles

So I got this delightful boxset as a birthday gift (and it wasn’t the only Clash related item, I ended up with two copies of their official book). Anyhow, this has been something I’ve been wanting for a good few months. I’ve never actually bought singles in abundance to be honest with you. By the time I was starting to develop a serious interest in music they seemed to be dying out as a format. I’ve always much preferred full albums. That said, I love well designed boxets, and The Clash had so many good tracks on the flip sides of their singles. This boxset is absolutely beautiful. It’s 19 discs and contains every single they ever made. And if a track had one B-side in one country and a different one in another both are included. It really is as comprehensive as you could get. The design is also amazing. Each single is a mini vinyl replica. It’s perfect for me really because whilst I do admire the visual appeal of vinyl I don’t collect it. I don’t have a record player. This way I get the aesthetic benefits (in miniature form) but I have the material in a format I can actually play and enjoy. It also has a very lovely booklet where each single is given a commentary by at least one (or more sometimes) well known musician. Many of my favourite musicans offer their thoughts on Clash singles such as Bernard Sumner, Damon Albarn, Ian Brown and John Squire to name a few. Honestly, considering they were punk’s most creative band of all time (and I’d even go so far as to say most creative rock band) of all time I would expect nothing less though!

The Clash – Know Your Rights (US Festival 1983)

Ah, the US Festival. Generally speaking this is regarded as far from The Clash’s best performance, a sentiment which I personally have to echo. Taken as a whole performance its not them at their peak as a live act (You need a Topper Headon era show for that in my opinion). They were still very good live though, and every so often they would come up with a performance that is amongst their best. Know Your Rights from the US Festival is one such performance I think. For me its also somewhat nostalgic – this was the first live Clash performance I ever saw when I began investigating them last year. This was probably what made me a bona-fide fan really. I loved it then and still do now. It’s common knowledge that this show took place in very sour circumstances. Relations between the band were at an all time low and it would in fact be Mick Jones’ last live show with the group. Their most recent album of the time – Combat Rock – may have been their biggest selling to date, and the US Festival may have been the biggest crowd the band played too but it was a far from harmonious event. The group were very angry that the ticket prices were $25 (they had been told they’d be $17). The band announced at a pre-show press conference that if Apple (who’s co-founder Steve Wozniak sponsored the festival) failed to cough up a hefty donation of $100,000 to charity then they simply wouldn’t play. Watching the performance you can almost taste Joe Strummer’s scorn. What I love about this performance is that he channels those feelings into his delivery and performance completely. Know Your Rights is probably the last true punk song The Clash wrote and it already has one of the most rousing sets of lyrics Joe Strummer ever wrote for me. His delivery in this performance just lifts the whole song up a notch though. I prefer how he sings the song here to how he sings the studio version by a landslide. I’d already consider the original amongst my favourite Clash songs but I prefer this live version to the studio version truth be told. It’s also been officially released on the Revolution Rock DVD (the only US Festival performance to be released officially). Stellar performance.

Collection: I finally found 808 State’s Quadrastate EP!

So this week and last I ordered some things from Amazon for my birthday, but this I definitely didn’t expect to find. I love 808 State, and their Quadrastate EP is one of my favourite records. Sadly, when I first heard it two years ago I tried to find a copy of it on CD and was unsuccessful. In fact at the time I wrote the briefest blog post on it HERE. I tried looking for it many times on Amazon but the only time it was issued on CD was as part of their 2008 series of remastered albums, but for some reason it’s always been unavailable on Amazon despite their other albums being easily obtainable. Even on Amazon Marketplace it seemed to never be available. So last week when I saw a brand new copy of it for £4 for sale on an Amazon Marketplace seller that I hadn’t used before I was so excited and ordered it immediately. It came two days ago and I was so excited, I had thought this was one CD I would never get! Now if only I can get similar luck with Joe Strummer’s Earthquake Weather album…

New stuff being added to the blog

As you may or may not know I also have a collection blog were I share pictures of my own personal music collection. When I amalgamated my other various blogs together to create this main blog you’re currently reading I had originally decided against the collection blog being put in with it. There’s quite a lot of posts there and I know some people just have no interest in collection posts whatsoever. Not to mention theres that many posts it would be borderline spam Having said that I like having just one blog, its easier to manage and all that. So I’ve decided I will cease to post on that collection blog but I will start posting more collection based posts on this one. It’ll only be for items that are out of print, vinyl (not that I own much vinyl) or are somewhat rare or unusual in some way. I don’t think very many people would be interested if I just posted up a picture of say my standard copy of Gorillaz’s Demon Days album. I’ll post up items that have more unusual stories and I’ll try to make one or two today. Thanks for reading!